Smaller volcanic eruptions could cool climate according to satellite research

July 5, 2012CLIMATE - A University of Saskatchewan-led international research team has discovered that aerosols from relatively small volcanic eruptions can be boosted into the high atmosphere by weather systems such as monsoons, where they can affect global temperatures. The research appears in the July 6 issue of the journal Science. Adam Bourassa, from the U of S Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies, led the research. He explains that until now it was thought that a massively energetic eruption was needed to inject aerosols past the troposphere, the turbulent atmospheric layer closest to the earth, into the stable layers of the stratosphere higher up. “If an aerosol is in the lower atmosphere, it’s affected by the weather and it precipitates back down right away,” Bourassa says. “Once it reaches the stratosphere, it can persist for years, and with that kind of a sustained lifetime, it can really have a lasting effect.” That effect is the scattering of incoming sunlight and the potential to cool the Earth’s surface. For example, the massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 temporarily dropped temperatures by half a degree Celsius world-wide. The research team includes scientists from the U of S, Rutgers University in New Jersey, the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, and the University of Wyoming. They looked at the June 2011 eruption of the Nabro volcano in Eritrea in northeast Africa. Wind carried the volcanic gas and aerosol – minute droplets of sulfuric acid – into the path of the annual Asian summer monsoon. The stratosphere’s calm layers are high – from 10 km up at the poles to 17 km altitude at the equator – and it was thought storms could not pierce it. For example, the distinctive flattened “anvil” shape at the top of large thunderstorms is created as the storm pushes against the stratosphere. Dust from the Nabro volcano, being slightly heavier, settled out, but the monsoon lofted volcanic gas and the lighter liquid droplets into the stratosphere where they were detected by the Canadian Space Agency’s OSIRIS instrument aboard the Swedish satellite Odin. The Nabro volcano caused the largest stratospheric aerosol load ever recorded by OSIRIS in its more than 10 years of flight. OSIRIS, designed in part at the U of S, is used to study the upper atmosphere, particularly the ozone layer and atmospheric aerosols. Originally intended for a two-year mission, the instrument has been functioning flawlessly since its launch in 2001. It circles the earth from pole to pole once every hour and a half, downloading fresh data to the analysis centre at the U of S campus. –Red Orbit
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15 Responses to Smaller volcanic eruptions could cool climate according to satellite research

  1. Rob says:

    This is probably one of the County’s in Western Europe(I can’t remember which but anyone can Google & find out) is talking about running a tube a couple of Kilometers into the air to start pumping sulfor into the atmosphere to simmulate a volcanic erruption :-|

  2. Helen Parks says:

    How do we get this message to the governments who think it is alright to tax us because of global ‘warming’?
    How do we get this message to those who are playing around with chemtrails “to keep us cool”
    Is it their plan to bring on an ice age? A nuclear winter?

    • Dennis E. says:

      Helen it is all about control and power.
      We are on the road to a world-wide one goverment, religion and economy
      and a plan to depopulate the world. As I keyboard this, the world is being divided into 10 regions and when this is done then a central goverment can be established. But, first, by using military power and threats, some countries, that resist, have to be bought into line
      I see the day that the UN goes away.
      Helen, they know what they are doing. I believe they are following a script.

  3. Irene C says:

    You mean that they finally figured out that volcanic eruptions are affecting the climate? Did anyone tell Al Gore about this? (Sorry for the sarcasm. I’m hot and cranky today.)

  4. I for one have been very concerned over the 50 odd minor eruptions and climate change and a cycle towards nuclear winter or a possible year without summer. The five medium eruptions in 1929: Mt. Palee Eruption,Carribbean, Mt. Gareloi Eruption, Alaska, Kammourta Eruption, Djibuti Africa, Santiaguita Eruption, Guatemala and Tonga Eruption, South Pacific seemed to have similar effects on global climate and some believe a major influence on the Dust Bowl and the decade of famine. Anybody else have thoughts on this? -DKP

    • In the future, we’ll be in deep trouble…is my thoughts.

    • suz says:

      I do…..it was called The Year Without a Summer, or Poverty Year, or The Summer that never was and 1800 froze to death. I happened in 1816 and severe summer climate abnormalities caused average global temps to decrease by about 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F). This resulted in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere. It is believed that what caused this was a combination of a historic low in solar activity with a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), the largest known eruption in over 1,300 years.

      Historian John D. Post called this “the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world”.

  5. Bob2012 says:

    There is a world of difference between ‘could’ and ‘would’ which makes this too open to speculation.

  6. Dennis E. says:

    I think there is substance to this post. Did not a volcano in the 1800′s cause a year without a summer and effecting the USA crop growth during that year?

  7. prayntongues says:

    A massive eruption of the supervolcano in Yellowstone park could trigger a mini iceage.

  8. Joseph t. Repas says:

    I find it interesting that volcanoes can shield sunlight from warming the planet yet give off gasses that contribute to global warming. Of course, it does not make an equal balance just as taking barbituates and amphetimines at the same time will not give you an even calm metabolism, so I look for wild mood swings on this planet. Also though, I find it so interesting that we seem to be repeating the early 1930′s all over again both with climate, economic systems failing, and, well, last time lead to WWII…this time?

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