Volcano Ash Impacting Climate Change

Photo courtesy of mrwallpaper.com

Photo courtesy of mrwallpaper.com

“Small volcanic eruptions might be part of the reason why the pace of global warming hasn’t kept up with previous predictions,” stated Francesca Trianni of www.time.com. During major volcanic eruptions, huge amounts of volcanic gas, aerosol droplets, and ash are injected into the stratosphere. Volcanic gases like sulfur dioxide can cause global cooling, while volcanic carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, has the potential to promote global warming, reportedwww.volcanoes.usgs.gov .

Volcanic eruptions can alter the climate of the Earth in many ways. For example, average global temperatures dropped about a degree Fahrenheit for about two years after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, and very cold temperatures caused crop failures and famine in North America and Europe for two years following the eruption of Mt.Tambora in 1815, according to www.cotef.edu .

Volcanologists believe that the balance of the Earth’s mild climate over periods of millions of years is maintained by ongoing volcanism. The effect of the volcanic gases and dust may warm or cool the earth’s surface, depending on how sunlight interacts with the volcanic material, www.cotef.edu also reported.

Volcanoes can also warm the earth, depending on how the sun’s light and heat is reflected. The ash acts like a sort of “blanket”, shielding the earth from the sun’s warmth and light rays, allowing only some of it to pass through. The ash “blanket” can also trap the warm air inside the atmosphere and not allowing it to escape, therefore warming the Earth, reported Tim Wall of news.discovery.com.