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How do volcanoes affect world

climate?

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A Guide to Volcanoes From Pompeii to Mount Pinatubo, volcanoes might have shaped
Earth's surface, but also killed thousands. What makes magma burst from the ground as lava?
Can scientists predict dangerous eruptions? »November 6, 2008

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Karen Harpp, an assistant professor of geology at Colgate University,
provides this explanation:

the climate was abnormally cold.In 1784. The effects. the Laki event also produced an ash cloud that may have reached up into the stratosphere. a gas known to contribute to the greenhouse effect." each year. An enormous eruption of the Laki fissure system (a chain of volcanoes in which the lava erupts through a crack in the ground instead of from a single point) in Iceland caused the disruptions. Consequences were also felt far beyond Iceland. both in Europe and back in the U. Such greenhouse gases trap heat radiated off of the surface of the earth forming a type of insulation around the planet. black. ultimately. the global temperature of the most recent Ice Age was only about five degrees C below the current average. of course. and hydrogen fluoride gases (HF). That may not sound like much. more than 75 percent of Iceland¿s livestock and 25 percent of its human population died from famine or the toxic impact of the Laki eruption clouds. What Benjamin Franklin observed was indeed the result of volcanic activity. perhaps as far west as Siberia. He observed that during the summer of 1783. First. This cloud caused a dense haze across Europe that dimmed the sun. were most severe in Iceland. In addition to ash. the winter was more severe ash and aerosol clouds into the than usual. and there seemed to be "a constant fog over atmosphere and produce more than 100 million tons of carbon dioxide all Europe. The ground froze early. Benjamin Franklin made what may have been the first connection between volcanoes and global climate while stationed in Paris as the first diplomatic representative of the United States of America. and [a] great part of North America. The Laki eruptions produced about 14 cubic kilometers of basalt (thin. The greenhouse effect is essential for our survival because it maintains the temperature of our planet within a habitable range. however. there is growing concern .S. hydrogen chloride (HCl). Temperature data from the U. volcanic eruptions produce major quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2).S. fluid lava) during more than eight months of activity. destroying crops and killing livestock. For comparison. The gases combined with water in the atmosphere to produce acid rain. Nevertheless. There are many reasons that large volcanic eruptions have such far-reaching effects on global climate. the temperature decreased about one degree Celsius in the Northern Hemisphere overall. indicate that record lows occurred during the winter of 1783-1784. the eruptive cloud consisted primarily of vast quantities of sulfur dioxide (SO 2). the first snow stayed on the Image: ¿PHOTODISC VOLCANIC ERUPTIONSinject ground without melting. More importantly in terms of global climate. but it had enormous effects in terms of food supplies and the survival of people across the Northern Hemisphere. In fact.

St. There is no doubt that volcanic eruptions add CO2 to the atmosphere. On August 26 and 27. The 1982 eruption of El Chich¿n in Mexico. but compared to the quantity produced by human activities. which revealed that the formation of atmospheric sulfur aerosols has a more substantial effect on global temperatures than simply the volume of ash produced during an eruption. St. 1883. scientists believed that it was volcanoes' stratospheric ash clouds that had the dominant effect on global temperatures. Initially. . By the afternoon of August 28th. the volcano Krakatau erupted in a catastrophic event that ejected about 20 cubic kilometers of material in an eruption column almost 40 kilometers high.that our production of gases such as CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels may be pushing the system a little too far. which is one of the reasons their effects are so widespread and long lasting. altered that view. had three to five times the global cooling effect worldwide. Fine particles. Helens. rode atmospheric currents westward. El Chich¿n emitted more than 40 times the volume of sulfur-rich gases produced by Mt. their impact is virtually trivial: volcanic eruptions produce about 110 million tons of CO2 each year. By far the more substantive climatic effect from volcanoes results from the production of atmospheric haze.000 times that quantity. Darkness immediately enveloped the neighboring Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. The ash and aerosol clouds from large volcanic eruptions spread quickly through the atmosphere. the major Mt. resulting in excessive warming on a global scale. Large eruption columns inject ash particles and sulfur-rich gases into the troposphere and stratosphere and these clouds can circle the globe within weeks of the volcanic activity. Sulfate aerosols appear to take several years to settle out of the atmosphere. The small ash particles decrease the amount of sunlight reaching the surface of the earth and lower average global temperatures. whereas human activities contribute almost 10. however. Helens eruption had lowered global temperatures by about 0. haze from the Krakatau eruption had reached South Africa and by September 9th it had circled the globe.1 degree C. Only two years earlier. Despite its smaller ash cloud. however. The sulfurous gases combine with water in the atmosphere to form acidic aerosols that also absorb incoming solar radiation and scatter it back out into space. in contrast. The much smaller eruption of El Chich¿n. only to do so several more times before settling out of the atmosphere.

The sulfur-rich aerosols circled the globe within three weeks and produced a global cooling effect approximately twice that of El Chich¿n.6 degrees C during 1992 and 1993. some scientists argue that without the cooling effect of major volcanic eruptions such as El Chich¿n and Mount Pinatubo. the Indonesian volcano Tambora propelled more ash and volcanic gases into the atmosphere than any other eruption in history and resulted in significant atmospheric cooling on a global scale. In 1815. global warming effects caused by human activities would have been far more substantial. Morn came and went¿and came. and may have inspired numerous artists and writers in their work. the aerosol particles may have contributed to an accelerated rate of ozone depletion during that same period. and unpleasant climatic effects of the eruption led 1816 to be known as "the year without a summer. The cold. The luminous. vibrant renderings of the fiery late day skyline above the Thames River in London by the British painter William Ascroft. "Darkness" . for instance. The spectacular optical effects of the 1883 Krakatau eruption cloud were observed across the globe. Moreover. and the icy earth Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air. with snowfalls as late as August and massive crop failures. much like Krakatau a few decades later. Ash and aerosol particles suspended in the atmosphere scatter light of red wavelengths. And brought no day¿" --Lord Byron. in the Philippines. Interestingly. New England and Europe were particularly hard hit. may be the result of the distant Krakatau eruption. Pinatubo¿s eruption cloud reached over 40 kilometers into the atmosphere and ejected about 17 million tons of SO2." and inspired Lord Byron to write: "The bright Sun was extinguish¿d. and the stars Did wander darkling in the eternal space Rayless and pathless. wet. The Northern Hemisphere cooled by up to 0. just over two times that of El Chich¿n in 1982.The atmospheric effects of volcanic eruptions were confirmed by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. often resulting in brilliantly colored sunsets and sunrises around the world. Major volcanic eruptions have additional climatic effects beyond global temperature decreases and acid rain.

There is a story that Byron invited some of his friends to his home in Switzerland that summer to relax by the shores of Lake Geneva. volcanic eruptions can have some unexpectedly far-reaching results. revealing that in addition to major climatic effects. Answer originally published April 15. The lack of sun and warm summerweather led the group to hold a competition writing ghost stories to keep themselves entertained. Mary Shelley. One of the guests. . 2002. wrote the famous novel Frankensteinfor this contest.