Terrible Climate Change Effects Due To Future Volcanic Eruptions

Scientists predict that future volcanic eruptions may fuel climate change effects which can become even more harmful. If we do not boost the efforts to combat the effects of global warming and diminish greenhouse gas emissions, future generations may suffer. The years to come may transform into years depleted of summers.

Researchers studied the potential impact of volcanic eruptions on our planet in the near future. The results indicate that our oceans will no longer be able to combat the effects of aerosols and sulfur coming from these eruptions. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) led the new study in the US. The authors have started studying the effects of the Mount Tambora’s eruptions on the climate of our planet back in 1815.

Cooler summers means damaged crops

The new study confirms the devastating eruption back then was so harmful that the year 1816 was a year without summer. The Community Earth System Model’s (CESM) Last Millennium Ensemble Project simulates the climate of our planet relying on the volcanic eruptions’ records between 850 to 2005. Hence, specialists revealed that terrible eruptions triggered a major global cooling event.

Furthermore, the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia back in April 1815 emitted sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. Up there, this gas transformed into sulfate particles known as aerosols. The thin layer of aerosols from the upper atmosphere worked just like a mirror, reflecting away from our planet the heat and light coming from the sun. Hence, this triggered a cooler global average temperature, causing the formation of more ice and snow, especially in Europe.

During the future summer, in 1816, the temperatures registered a massive drop compared to the year before the volcanic eruption. Unfortunately, the cold weather determined crop failure on vast areas of land. Moreover, the change in weather also triggered the occurrence of several diseases, and 100,000 people died.

Scientists decided to run the historical data of CESM to simulate a Mount Tambora’s eruption in 2085, trying to figure out the effects it will have. Particularly, they wanted to see what will be the effects of the eruption if we consider an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Their historical simulations unveiled that two climatic processes influenced the temperature on Earth after the eruption of Mount Tambora.

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Future volcanic events may trigger years with no summer

The occurrence of aerosols boosted the increase of snowfall and ice on land. As the layer of aerosols reflects the heat and sunlight away from our planet, the oceans cooled, and more ice emerged. In this way, colder water sunk while the warmer water rose. Hence, it released heat back into the atmosphere.

After that aerosol layer has disappeared, the Earth received more heat and light from the sun. In this way, oceans managed to cool down the atmosphere because large water sources take longer to warm up. The models recently developed by scientists indicate a possible similar eruption in 2085. The simulations indicate that global temperature would decrease even more compared to 1815.

Lave flowing near a volcano

Previous volcanic eruptions determined years without summers and that is likely to happen in the future, too.

Instead of increasing the amount of land covered by ice and snow, the warming predicted by climate change would alter the temperatures. Hence, we would witness coverage remain more or less the same. Even if this may sound like good news, the models indicate that the ocean would be more stratified. This means that sea surface temperatures could rise. Hence, the warmer water from the surface of the ocean will not be able to mix with the colder water below.

The development of ocean stratification may determine the cool water after the eruption to be trapped at the surface. Therefore, it will no longer mix with the water deeper into the ocean. Furthermore, it will not reduce the heat released into the atmosphere. The new study reveals that the ability of the ocean to moderate the cooling of the land in the future would significantly decrease.

Years to come may bring cooler summers

The cooler temperatures from the surface of the sea might also contribute to the decrease of the amount of water which evaporates. Hence, it will also diminish the worldwide average precipitation and rainfall. Just like it did in the past, this event could affect crops again. Furthermore, the decrease in global temperatures of about 1.1 degrees Celsius would be pointless. They would not be able to offset the extreme warming determined by future climate change events where temperatures are predicted to increase by 4.2 degrees Celsius by 2085.

Even if scientists developed tedious worked and analyzed several historical data, they have presented their results with a word of caution. Researchers argue that it is difficult for them to establish and quantify the precise effects of the cooling. This is because they have only worked with a small number of simulations.

Furthermore, researchers cannot know for sure how the climate will react to future volcanic eruptions. They do not know how it will respond to such a massive change. Furthermore, they are even more unlikely to predict whether the policies and changes the governments introduced will reach to change something. Probably, people will really start to take action and comply with the new regulations.

Otto Bliesner, the author of the paper, indicates that the climate system’s response regarding the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 offers scientists a perspective on possible surprises for the near future. Nevertheless, our climate system may offer a twist to any upcoming weather events, making its effects even more severe. We could never know 100% how our climate will respond to future volcanic eruptions.

Summing up

Future volcanic eruptions may be more dangerous than we have ever thought. Reaching to diminish climate change effects will remain our only hope. If this happens, we will finally have a chance to protect our planet and save the environment. Furthermore, if we take action, we will be able to save numerous species of plants and animals, including our own kind, assuring a better future for the generations to come.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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