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Climate Change Is Hindering The Cooling Properties Of Earth Volcanoes

By Monica U Santos , Nov 22, 2016 01:12 AM EST
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Eruptions of volcanoes have quite a few positive impact on us here on Earth and one such positive is the cooling effect that these eruptions provide. However, climate change may be preventing this ability of volcanoes. According to a new study in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmosphere, scientists have detailed the consequences that Earth could face as a result of climate change wreaking havoc on our planet’s volcanoes.

What Is Climate Change?

Climate change, also called global warming, refers to the rise in average surface temperatures on Earth. An overwhelming scientific consensus maintains that climate change is due primarily to the human use of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. According to NASA, scientists agree that the main cause of the current global warming trend is a human expansion of the "greenhouse effect."

The warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space is the state of the greenhouse effect. Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons. Climate change  is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions.

Climate Change Is Hindering The Cooling Properties Of Earth Volcanoes

Volcanic eruptions are considered to be large enough to affect the Earth's climate. The university of British Columbia published a Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmosphere wherein they have shown that climate change is causing the lower layers of the atmosphere to expand thereby hindering the ability of aerosol making sulfur from rising to the stratosphere – the layer where the aerosol reflects sunlight and heat and keeps Earth cool.

According to the researchers volcano eruptions contain sulfur among other gases and this sulfur rises through the atmosphere until it reaches the stratosphere. Once there, the surfur particles form aerosol and stay there for a couple of years. During these years, it actively reflects the heat and sunlight from the Sun and helps our planet cool down. On average, there are anywhere from three to five eruptions that reach the stratosphere every year.

 

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