Tag: volcanoes

What caused ‘snowball Earth?’

Volcanoes seen as likely trigger for global glaciation

In the right conditions, global ice can spread rapidly from pole to pole. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A 10-year string of steady volcanic eruptions may have been the trigger for a massive global cooling event that left much of the Earth encased in glaciers and ice sheets about 771 million years ago.

The eruptions could have spewed so much sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere that the planet’s climate reached a tipping point, resulting in what scientists call ‘snowball Earth,” according to a new study published this month in Geophysical Research Letters. Understanding the natural variability of climate is important to understanding current climate change driven by emission of greenhouse gases. Continue reading “What caused ‘snowball Earth?’”


Environment: Study quantifies volcano pollution

Plumes of smoke and flames rise from an eruption at Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland, in 2014. The amount of sulphur dioxide emitted in the six-month eruption was treble that given off by all of Europe’s industry. Credit Dr. John Stevenson

12,000 tons of sulphur dioxide per day …

Staff Report

Researchers in the UK have helped show how volcanoes can affect air quality by quantifying emissions from last year’s eruption of Iceland’s Bárðarbunga volcano.

“The eruption discharged lava at a rate of more than 200 cubic metres per second, which is equivalent to filling five Olympic-sized swimming pools in a minute,” said Dr Anja Schmidt from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, who led the study. Continue reading “Environment: Study quantifies volcano pollution”

More evidence that small volcanoes can slow global warming

Study teases volcanic climate signal out of the noise

Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A steep, decades-long rise in global temperatures probably was slowed in the late 1990s by the combined effects of a series of small volcanic eruptions, according to a new study led by scientists with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Previous research suggested that early 21st century eruptions might explain up to a third of the recent global warming slowdown, and the new findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters  further identifies observational climate signals caused by recent volcanic activity, which deflected substantially more solar radiation than previously estimated. Continue reading “More evidence that small volcanoes can slow global warming”

Do small volcanoes have a big climate impact?

New research may help explain the overall effect of volcanoes on global climate. Photo courtesy USGS.

New research tracks aerosols from volcanic eruptions

Staff Report

FRISCO — Sunlight-reflecting particles from relatively small volcanic eruptions may add up to have a significant effect on global temperatures, according to a new climate study that tries to quantify the cumulative impact of aerosols from volcanoes.

According to the research, based on a combination of measurements taken on the ground, in the air and from satellites, small volcanic eruptions that occurred between 2000 and 2013 deflected almost double the amount of solar radiation previously estimated.

That’s enough to lower global temperatures by about  0.05 to 0.12 degrees Celsius, the scientists concluded in their study, which appears in Geophysical Research Letters. Continue reading “Do small volcanoes have a big climate impact?”

Huge volcanic eruptions can lead to fast climate change

Will the world get it together on climate change?
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 “Huge volcanic eruptions can lead to fast climate change”

New map details Iceland glaciers, sub-glacial volcanoes

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 “New map details Iceland glaciers, sub-glacial volcanoes”

Climate: Tracking atmospheric aerosols

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.
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 “Climate: Tracking atmospheric aerosols”