We logically link volcanoes with heat and fire. The sight of hot boiling magma exploding out of mountain tops and oozing down to incinerate surrounding areas are all that comes to mind. But a study linked to global warming has concluded that more volcanic eruptions could lead to the cooling down of the earth’s atmosphere. This change has been linked to shifting climatic conditions.
We know that massive volcanic eruptions lasting even a few days can cause a massive outpouring of ash and toxic gases that can drastically influence climate patterns for the year.
But new findings suggest that even moderate volcanic eruptions can reach higher due to the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Research Shows How The Volcanoes Can Dispel Faster
Cambridge University researchers published their findings in the journal, Nature Communications. They suggest that the plumes from volcanoes could reach much higher, and also dispel faster, due to the increased presence of greenhouse gases.
This will stop sunlight from reaching the earth and also reflect more of it into the atmosphere, resulting in increased cooling.
Volcanoes were abundant just as Earth was turning more habitable for life as we know it. Regular volcanic activity has more influence on the temperature of the planet.
While at times, volcanic activity led to the release of carbon dioxide that warmed up the atmosphere, the release of sulfur caused the formation of sulfates that helped in lowering atmospheric temperatures. Inversely, the climatic conditions on earth also influence volcanoes.
Scientists simulated emissions from both large and mid-sized volcanoes in the course of historical conditions, plus also by the end of the century when climatic changes will cause an increase in temperatures.
Researchers noticed two trends. Just a midsized eruption or two would bypass the atmosphere of the earth to enter directly into the stratosphere, which is otherwise calm.
Reflective sulfate particles then spread out at this level to moderately lower the planet’s temperature. But a warmer troposphere expands and puts the stratosphere beyond reach.
However, in a warmer scenario with the earth’s temperature 6C higher, the gigantic eruptions would go through to the stratosphere. The gases would travel higher than it does at present and boost the cooling by 15%.
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The eruptions have been studied only in the tropics, not at the polar region, with the stratosphere close. It is also tough to predict whether the cooling effect from the volcanoes will affect the climate.
The subsequent stage of the research will study the eruption of the volcanoes at accurate warming levels. Geophysicist Thomas Aubry hopes that climate change doesn’t come to a level when we begin to impact volcanoes. But the pathway becomes narrower each day.