Home / General Knowledge / These Volcanic Eruptions Might Slow Climate Change, But Won’t Stop It

 

via New York Post : Two volcanoes are set to blow and their eruptions could help cool the Earth.

Mt. Agung in Bali, Indonesia, and the volcano on Ambae Island in Vanuatu, an island country west of Fiji, are both set to explode at any time. CNN reports that 144,000 people have already left Bali, and all of Ambae Island’s 11,000 residents have been evacuated.

Even though volcanic eruptions can cause death and an immeasurable amount of destruction, the aftermath of explosions often cool down the planet.

Volcanic eruptions send hundreds of thousands of tons of ash and sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. These tiny aerosol particles stay around for years and can reflect some sunlight back into space. When there’s less sunlight hitting Earth’s surface, energy becomes trapped by greenhouse gases.

However, the potential chill from Mt. Agung and the Ambae Island volcano will be small and short, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change — and won’t cool down the world immediately.

“The impact would be felt in 2018 and not 2017. It will take some months for the volcanic veil to spread out across the globe and hence the impacts on global climate to be felt,” Peter Thorne, a climate scientist at Maynooth University in Ireland and one of the study’s co-authors, told Earther. “The duration of impact of volcanoes depends upon the magnitude but a good rule of thumb is a few years.”

Mt. Agung last erupted in 1963 — killing 1,700 people — and caused the average global temperature to drop 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit for a few years. Similarly, when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it cooled the Earth by one degree Fahrenheit for two years.

In 2014, scientists discovered that a few small volcanic eruptions since 2000 had also helped to cool the planet and slow the acceleration of global warming.

But overall, Earth hasn’t had much volcanic activity over the last century while global temperatures have risen.

To measure the effect of two eruptions, the study reconstructed 2,500 years of volcanic activity to get a sense of the impact future eruptions could have on the planet. Researchers compared it with calculations based on a scenario where humans begin cutting carbon emissions mid-century. But, even with the unpredictability of volcanoes, their impact will never be enough to offset rising temperatures.

So, even if Mt. Agung gives us a few relatively cooler years, human-induced climate change won’t be solved by volcanic eruptions.

 

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