A volcanic eruption is said to have occurred when magma, ash or dust found in the earth’s crust find their way to the earth’s surface through an opening. The eruption affects the world’s climate negatively. It has a cooling effect, warming effect and produces green house gasses, dusts and chemicals to the environment in turn affecting climate. This paper discusses the climatic effects of volcanic eruptions (Bush, 2006).
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When an eruption occurs, it releases gasses, dust and magma to/on the earth’s surface and the atmosphere. Depending on how sunlight interacts with these exposed compounds, the result may be climate warming or cooling. The effect is both in the long term and short term.
For example the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, caused the world temperatures to drop by degree Fahrenheit for a period approximated to be two years. This resulted to slow growth of plans in Europe and other parts of the world. Tambora in 1815 caused a temperature drop in Europe and Northern America which was acute that crops failed and lead to drought in the countries affected (Morgan, Steven & Valdes, 2007).
Immediately after a volcano, dust released to the atmosphere causes a cooling effect; the level of cooling depends on the size of dust particles released and the amount. Tiny dusts have a higher cooling effect than large grain emissions. This is because they remain in the atmosphere for a long period. Gases from volcano contain sulphur oxide, carbon dioxide or sulphur dioxide among other gases. These gasses easily rise to stratosphere.
They then combine with water droplets found in the atmosphere and come back as rain acid. Since the stratosphere is dry, the droplets made take a long time before they are heavy enough to drop as rain. They are at this time interrupting the normal functioning of the atmosphere.
The result is a cooling effect. Pinatubo and Tambora eruptions 1991 and 1815 respectively are believed to have caused a massive sulphur haze eruption which resulted to cooling of the earth for about two years. On the other hand these gasses have green house effects which affect the normal operation of the atmosphere. The end result is global warming.
Global warming is the increase of world temperature which is caused by emission of green house gasses to the atmosphere. The frequency of volcanic eruption is not high and thus its effect on global warming is not much, however if huge eruptions like flood basalt volcanoes occur, then carbon emitted can cause a significant effect on global warming (Smith & Braile, 1994).
Volcanoes release large amount of Carbon dioxide and water vapour to the environment. These are in tiny particles which remain in the atmosphere where they reflect sunlight rays making the earth’s temperatures fall. A recent case was eruption which occurred in Europe; Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The eruption released a large amount of gases to the atmosphere. There was an increased pollution of climate and atmosphere to a level that planes were not allowed to fly to or from Europe.
The immediate effect was an increase in temperatures. When volcanoes erupt, they release a smoke of gas, dust, water vapour and magma. These components have a cooling effect on the earth’s temperature; when temperatures have been tampered with, worlds climatic patterns change. For example seasons change, rain composition change and there is global warming caused by particles release to the environment (Dvorak, Johnson & Tilling, 1992).
Bush, M.B. (2006). Ecology of changing Planet 3rd Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Dvorak, J. J., Johnson, C., & Tilling, R.I. (1992, August). Dynamics of Kilauea Volcano. Scientific America, 46-53.
Morgan, T., Steven, J. and Valdes, p. (2007). The Climatic Impact of Super Volcanic Ash blanket. Springer
Smith, R .B. & Braile, L. W. (1994). The Yellowstone hotspot. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 61. 121-187.