Large volcanic eruptions could eat away at ozone layer

June 13, 2012CENTRAL AMERICA - A large eruption in the volcanically active region of Central America could release enough ozone-depleting gases to significantly thin the ozone layer for several years, researchers announced Tuesday. Such a volcanic eruption could double or triple the current levels of the chemical elements bromine and chlorine in the stratosphere, the upper atmosphere layer where ozone gas protects us from ultraviolet radiation, the researchers calculated, based on the levels of these chemicals released from 14 volcanoes in Nicaragua over the past 70,000 years. The researchers presented their work at a scientific conference in Iceland. Bromine and chlorine need an electron to become stable, and can easily rip it off passing molecules, like ozone. They are gases that “love to react — especially with ozone,” study researcher Kirstin Krüger, a meteorologist with GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany, explained in a statement. “If they reach the upper levels of the atmosphere, they have a high potential of depleting the ozone layer.” To estimate the past release of these chemicals by volcanoes, the researchers measured levels of halogens (the group of highly reactive elements that bromine and chlorine belong to) in rock layers deposited before and after historic eruptions. The average eruption released two to three times the quantity of human-produced bromine and chlorine currently in the stratosphere, they found. “As we have bromine and chlorine together, we believe that this can lead to substantial depletion,” Krüger said. “And this is from one single eruption.” Previous studies have estimated that in large, explosive eruptions — the type that sends mushroom clouds of ash miles high — up to 25 percent of the ejected halogens can reach the stratosphere. Because the effects are in the stratosphere, where the volcanic gases can be carried across the globe, eruptions of tropical volcanoes could lead to ozone depletion over a large area, even having an impact over Antarctica and the Arctic, where seasonal “holes” in the ozone layer already exist. Some volcanic gases can last in the stratosphere up to six years, Krüger said, although the most significant impacts from eruptions like the intense eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 were within the first two years. Pinatubo’s eruption reduced global temperatures by about 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 degrees Celsius) during the following year. -MSNBC
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7 Responses to Large volcanic eruptions could eat away at ozone layer

  1. Irene C says:

    Just don’t forget that global warming is man-made.

  2. gman4721 says:

    I have said for many years that one volcano puts more CO2 and halogen gases in the atmospere than mankind has ever done. Halogens that are not chemically combined are very reactive gases and would easily destroy ozone if able to get to the upper stratosphere.On the other hand halogenated refrigerants(CFC’s.HCFC’s) are very chemically stable molecules,molecularly very heavy and it is highly unlikely they ever get to the upper stratosphere in any great quantity.(ask any dead sevice tech who walked into a mechanical room and never walked out about how heavy they are)

    Man-caused ozone holes and elevated CO2 levels are just environmentalist fabrications created so that their agenda’s could be more easily accepted.Man-made global warming?? I think not….Of course this will be debated until hedoublel freezes over.

    • suz says:

      I learn so much here…..I never realized a volcano would put more CO2 and halogen gases into the atmosphere than man. But that said, even if environmentalists fabricated a lot and blamed us more for most of the problems, we still need to pay attention to how we treat the earth. Nature is a fine balance and if we interfere with this balance… if we continue to pollute and destroy at this current rate, we become nothing more than a cancer upon this earth. For ex. if we were to upset the food chain….if for some reason all tigers disappeared. Then the deer population will increase to such an extent that plants will reduce in number drastically and the habitat will become unsuitable for other herbivores also with more competition. If the deer disappear, then the tigers will starve and dwindle in number. And if the plants disappear, then deer cannot survive and as a result the tigers also cannot survive. It’s so important that we respect all living things.

      • Irene C says:

        So true Suz. There’s a difference between falling for the hype of man-made global warming, which is just another way for the elite to get richer off of carbon tax, and taking care of this planet that God gave us. We need to be responsible caretakers without falling prey to the greed of the elite.

        Maranatha

  3. sealed says:

    I just “love” how the study highlights volcanoes in Nicaragua! I guess it’s called the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes for a reason…:)
    Sincerely, living in Nicaragua (12 miles from a volcano nicknamed “the gate to hell”)

  4. Dart says:

    Kirstin Krüger perhaps could have informed us that the ozone (O3) is formed when high energy ultra violet light collides with normal oxygen(O2) atoms splitting them into single oxygen atoms. Some of these unstable atoms rejoin as O3. Ozone is being constantly formed high above our heads except in the polar winter, – hence the regions of low ozone concentration.

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