Posted on November 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Researchers are getting a better handle on what might have caused the Permian extinction. Photo courtesy NASA.
Acid rain, ozone depletion contributed to ancient mass extinction
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — While the steady increase in greenhouse gas concentrations may be a slow form of ecocide, massive volcanic eruptions may have the ability to alter the atmosphere so profoundly that it leads to relatively sudden and widespread mass extinctions.
That’s likely what happened 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when there was a mass extinction so severe that it remains the most traumatic known species die-off in Earth’s history. Previous research has suggested the event was triggered by contemporaneous volcanic eruptions in Siberia, and a recent followup study looked at the effects those eruptions had on Earth’s atmosphere. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: acid rain, climate change, Environment, ozone depletion, Permian mass extinction, volcanoes | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
New map provides valuable information the global warming era
Iceland’s glaciers are an important source of water for hydropower generation.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A team effort by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Icelandic Meteorological Office has resulted in a new map detailing all of Iceland’s glaciers, as well as subglacial volcanoes. The map incorporates historical data and coverage from aerial photographs and remote sensing satellites, helping to show recent and historic changes in Iceland’s dynamic landscape.
Iceland has about 300 glaciers throughout the country, and altogether, 269 glaciers, outlet glaciers and internal ice caps are named. The glaciers that lack names are small and largely newly revealed, exposed by melting of snow pack due to warmer summer temperatures. The number of identified glaciers has nearly doubled at the beginning of the 21st century. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: glaciers, Iceland, USGS, volcanoes | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
New satellite data shows volcanoes are a bigger factor than industrial emissions, at least high in the atmosphere
Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano erupting in 1990. Photo courtesy USGS/R.J. Clucas.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Scientists have long known that aerosols can have a major effect on climate, and with measurements from sensitive satellite-based instruments, they’re getting a better handle on the formation, distribution and sources of various sulfur compounds in the atmosphere.
In a new study, researchers with the Karslruhe Institute of Technology say they’ve compiled one of the most comprehensive overview of sulfur dioxide measurements.
“Sulfur compounds up to 30 km altitude may have a cooling effect,” said KIT researcher Michael Höpfner, explaining that sulfur dioxide and water vapor react to sulfuric acid that forms aerosols, that reflect solar radiation back into universe. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: aerosols, climate, Envisat, global warming, sulfur dioxide, volcanoes | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Researchers gaining a better understanding of stratospheric aerosols
Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO —A series of small to mid-sized volcanic eruptions the past 10 years were the main factor in the formation of stratospheric sulfuric acid that reflected the sun’s energy and partially offset the effects of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
“This new study indicates it is emissions from small to moderate volcanoes that have been slowing the warming of the planet,” said Ryan Neely, a researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science and doctoral student at CU Boulder.
Neely said previous observations suggest that increases in stratospheric aerosols since 2000 have counterbalanced as much as 25 percent of the warming scientists blame on human greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate, global warming, stratospheric aerosols, Stratospheric sulfur aerosols, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, volcanoes | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Floating rafts of pumice attract all sorts of marine life as they float across the South Pacific.
New study suggests floating rafts of pumice could help replenish reefs
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Pumice from volcanic explosions may play a previously unknown role in the formation of coral reefs, according to researchers with the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
Dr. Scott Bryan, a geologist at the university, led a recent study of westward flowing rafts of pumice after volcanic eruptions in Tonga in 2001 and 2006, finding that plants and tiny animals — including corals — latched onto pumice as it was swept by ocean currents towards north eastern Australia.
“The pumice raft created after the 2006 Home Reef volcano erupted in Tonga initially formed at least a 440-square-kilometer floating mass,” Bryan said. “This mass slowly broke up into streaks and millions to billions of marine organisms such as cyanobacteria, barnacles, molluscs, corals, anemones, and crabs began hitching a ride.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: Australia, coral reefs, Great Barrier Reef, Pumice raft, Queensland University of Technology, South Pacific, volcanoes | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA satellite captures a view of the smoke billowing from the Nabro Volcano in Ethiopia during a June 2011 eruption.
New study to help inform climate models
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Using data from sensitive satellite instruments, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have determined relatively small volcanic eruptions can affect climate on a global level, as aerosols from the eruptions are transported into the upper levels of the atmosphere by weather systems like monsoons.
“If an aerosol is in the lower atmosphere, it’s affected by the weather and it precipitates back down right away,” said Adam Bourass, with university of Saskatchewan’s Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies. “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,” Bourass said, explaining that the particles scatter incoming sunlight, thus cooling the Earth’s surface. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: aerosols, Atmosphere, Atmospheric Research, Mount Pinatubo, Rutgers University, University of Saskatchewan, volcanoes | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Mt. St. Helens. PHOTO COURTESY USGS.
USGS research quantifies emissions from eruptions
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Among the numerous red herrings thrown out by global warming deniers is the idea that it’s not worth reducing carbon dioxide emissions because volcanoes spew out so much more of the heat-trapping gas.
Scientists have known that’s not quite true — not even close to true, actually, and a recent study helps quantify and compare the emissions from the two different sources, showing that, globally, all volcanoes combined emit about as much CO2 annually as a mid-sized state like Pennsylvania.
“On average, human activities put out in just three to five days, the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that volcanoes produce globally each year. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, world news | Tagged: carbon cycle, carbon dioxide, Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere, global warming, USGS, volcanoes | 2 Comments »