Volcano Climate Impact

Russ Steele

Ice Age Now has a interesting article on the impact of small volcano eruptions.


An international research team has found that aerosols from relatively small volcanic eruptions can affect global temperatures.

Odin Satellite – Image credit: Swedish Space Corp

Until now it was thought that a massively energetic eruption was needed to inject aerosols all the way through the troposphere and into the stratosphere, says Adam Bourassa, from the U of S Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies.

But when the team looked at the June 2011 eruption of the Nabro volcano in Eritrea in northeast Africa, they found that wind had carried the volcanic gas and aerosol – minute droplets of sulfuric acid – into the path of the annual Asian summer monsoon.

The monsoon lofted volcanic gas and lighter liquid droplets into the stratosphere where they were detected by the Swedish research satellite Odin.

“Once (an aerosol) reaches the stratosphere, it can persist for years, and with that kind of a sustained lifetime, it can really have a lasting effect,” says Bourassa, who led the research.  “That effect is the scattering of incoming sunlight and the potential to cool the Earth’s surface.”

For example, the massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 temporarily dropped temperatures by half a degree Celsius world-wide.

The research appears in the July 6 issue of the journal Science.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112651244/smaller-volcanoes-could-cool-climate-accor ding-to-satellite-research/


Note all eruptions on this graphic during our coldest periods.


New Physics Today Article “The Triggering And Persistence Of The Little Ice Age” (Update)

This is a re-post from Climate Science: Roger Pielke Sr. Blog

Dr Pielke writes: Every once in a while a nugget of new research insight appears that adds to our understanding of the climate system, and its complexity. One article of this type has appeared.

Miller, G. H., et al. (2012), Abrupt onset of the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanism and sustained by sea-ice/ocean feedbacks, Geophys. Res. Lett.,39,L02708,doi:10.1029/2011GL050168


Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures over the past 8000 years have been paced by the slow decrease in summer insolation resulting from the precession of the equinoxes. However, the causes of superposed century-scale cold summer anomalies, of which the Little Ice Age (LIA) is the most extreme, remain debated, largely because the natural forcings are either weak or,in the case of volcanism, short lived. Here we present precisely dated records of ice-cap growth from Arctic Canada and Iceland showing that LIA summer cold and ice growth began abruptly between 1275 and 1300 AD, followed by a substantial intensification 1430–1455 AD. Intervals of sudden ice growth coincide with two of the most volcanically perturbed half centuries of the past millennium. A transient climate model simulation shows that explosive volcanism produces abrupt summer cooling at these times, and that cold summers can be maintained by sea-ice/ocean feedbacks long after volcanic aerosols are removed. Our results suggest that the onset of the LIA can be linked to an unusual 50-year-long episode with four large sulfur-rich explosive eruptions,each with global sulfate loading >60 Tg. The persistence of cold summers is best explained by consequent sea-ice/ocean feedbacks during a hemispheric summer insolation minimum; large changes in solar irradiance are not required.

The Key Points listed in the Miller et al 2012 paper are:

  • Little Ice Age began abruptly in two steps
  • Decadally paced explosive volcanism can explain the onset
  • A sea-ice/ocean feedback can sustain the abrupt cooling

The Miller et al article is summarized HERE.

I have added the following graphic for a visual reference to the cooling and the eruptions:

Update (04-13-12: 11:00) I was look at the above graphic and I could see cold happening before the volcano eruptions, leading me to wonder if the above article has all the facts right. So did Willis Eschenbach in Guest Post at Watts Up With ThatDronning Maud Meets the Little Ice Age.  Willis concludes: 

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the evidence that volcanoes had anything to do with the changes in the Baffin Island ice cap. And their whole sea/ice feedback claim? I note that the claim is supported by … well … I fear all it is supported by is models all the way down.

I recommend that you read the full post by Willis. As you can see on the graphic, there were volcano eruptions while warming was taking place, leading one to believe the volcano connection to starting the LIA are suspect. Now one could make the case they deepened the cold and misery for a few years, but not for long periods as proposed in the article. Stay Tuned, there will be more analysis to come.

City of Baghdad was FROZEN over 1,000 years ago – new climate change clues

Russ Steele

Ted Thornhill writing in the Daily Mail Online: 

Temperatures in Baghdad range from around 2C in winter to 45C in the summer – but ancient Arabic writings have revealed that the city experienced a dramatic frozen period around 1,000 years ago.

Spanish researchers from the University of Extremadura found 9th and 10th century (3rd and 4th in the Islamic calendar) sources that refer to snowfalls in the Iraqi capital in 908, 944 and 1007 and even rivers being frozen.

These are extreme events for Baghdad – for example, the only snowfall in the modern era took place in 2008 – and help meteorologists better understand today’s climate.

Clues about weather patterns in Baghdad came from writers such as al-Tabari (913 AD), Ibn al-Athir (1233 AD) and al-Suyuti (1505 AD) – who all mentioned the climate from time to time.

Lead author Dr Fernando Domínguez-Castro, writing in the journal Weather, said:

‘Climate information recovered from these ancient sources mainly refers to extreme events which impacted wider society such as droughts and floods.

‘However, they also document conditions which were rarely experienced in ancient Baghdad such as hailstorms, the freezing of rivers or even cases of snow.

These signs of a sudden cold period confirm suggestions of a temperature drop during the tenth century, immediately before the Medieval Warm Period.

‘We believe the drop in July 920 AD may have been linked to a great volcanic eruption but more work would be necessary to confirm this idea.’

You can read the rest of the article HERE.  This Chart puts the dates in perspective with a historical time line:

I would like to see if there were similar freezing events during the LIA. I will do some digging on the Internet. If you know of some, please let me know.

Volcanic and Seismic Awakening of Pan-America

Robert Felix writes at Ice Age Now:

“The seismic and volcanic awakening of Pan-America is now well underway,” says this article on the Extinction Protocol.

The whole region is becoming more violent as geological forces increase plate pressures on the region and the sea-floor is violently stirred along the Puerto Rico trench. The trench has an unsettling history of producing very powerful earthquakes- 8.1 magnitude earthquakes struck the region both in 1787 and 1946.

As a result of the mounting seismic tension on the western region of the plate, we’re already witnessing the volcanic and seismic awakening of much of Pan-America.

  • On November 20, Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano unleashed a 5 km ash cloud.
  • On November 22nd, Guatemala’s lofty Fuego volcano followed suit with a 2 km cloud of dark ash.
  • On November 25th, the alert status of Colombia’s Gelaras volcano was raised to orange.
  • On November 26th, the dense upper volcanic belt of El Salvador was shaken by a swarm of over 700 tremors in a 24-hour-period.
  • Now Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano is the latest telltale sign that the time-bomb in the Atlantic is still ticking.

via Volcanic and seismic awakening of Pan-America.

During past Grand Minimums volcanism has played a large role in the cooling during some phases. Some scientist have suggested a quiet sun increases volcanic activity on early, but I have not found any smoking gun evidence. However, will continue to monitor volcanic activity.   Not sure that I buy the message on the Extinction Protocol web site, but this information is useful.


On the brink: Tremors increase at Anak Krakatau to 5,000 a day | The Extinction Protocol: 2012 and beyond

October 22, 2011 – SUMATRA, Indonesia –Several earthquakes have struck near south Sumatra of the 5.0 and 5.1 magnitude range today- making a tense situation on the volcanically-dotted archipelago potentially even more volatile. The Anak Krakatau volcano is showing signs of increased seismic activity. Authorities fear the volcano is building towards an eruption that could dwarf the one which occurred in 2007. Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Disasters Mitigation Center reported the numbers of seismic tremors now registering from the volcano have exceeded 5,000 a day. There are also reports of a gaseous mist which has seeped from the volcano and have enshrouded it in a yellowish haze- something that has never been observed at the volcano before. Anak Krakatau was placed on orange level 3 status alert on September 30, 2011.

via On the brink: Tremors increase at Anak Krakatau to 5,000 a day | The Extinction Protocol: 2012 and beyond.

Rapidly Inflating Volcano Creates Growing Mystery

Russ Steele

The geological record tells us that the earth has experienced the eruption of Supervolcanoes in the past. Yellowstone was one in the Northern Hemisphere. The Yellowstone Supervolcano produced three supereruptions eruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot. The three super eruptions occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago, 

How there is one of interest to vulcanologist in the southern hemisphere. Uturuncu is a 20,000-foot-high volcano in southwest Bolivia. Scientists recently discovered the volcano is inflating with astonishing speed. Details at Our Amazing Planet.

It is surrounded by one of the most dense concentrations of supervolcanoes on the planet, all of which fell silent some 1 million years ago.

Supervolcanoes get their name because they erupt with such power that they typically spew out 1,000 times more material, in sheer volume, than a volcano like Mount St. Helens. Modern human civilization has never witnessed such an event. The planet’s most recent supervolcanic eruption happened about 74,000 years ago in Indonesia. [Related: The 10 Biggest Volcanic Eruptions in History]

“These eruptions are thought to have not only a local and regional impact, but potentially a global impact,” de Silva said.

Uturuncu itself is in the same class as Mount St. Helens in Washington state, but its aggressive rise could indicate that a new supervolcano is on the way. Or not.

De Silva said it appears that local volcanoes hoard magma for about 300,000 years before they blow — and Uturuncu last erupted about 300,000 years ago.

“So that’s why it’s important to know how long this has been going on,” he said.

To find an answer, scientists needed data that stretch back thousands of years — but they had only 20 years of satellite data.

A supervolcanoe could have a much larger impact than a grand minimum on the climate. Stay Tuned.

Violent Volcano Eruption on Kamchatka Peninsula.

Russ Steele

There are reports of a violent volcanic eruption of Mount Shiveluch on Russia’s Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula.

Smoke and ash from the volcano have climbed to 10 kilometres, sparking no-fly warnings for the surrounding area. Snow around the crater is rapidly melting, creating mudslides.

Shiveluch is the northernmost active volcano in Kamchatka Krai, Russia. It is one of Kamchatka’s largest and most active volcanoes.

This eruption could have some winter weather impacts for California. Stay Tuned.

Update: Spanish Canary Island of El Hierro has issued a volcanic eruption alert

Volcanic eruption alert on Spanish Canary Island – Yahoo! News

MADRID AP — The regional government of the Spanish Canary Island of El Hierro has issued a volcanic eruption alert following almost 10,000 small tremors recorded in the past three months.

The government posted a yellow alert — second level in a scale of four — Sunday and closed some hillside roads and a tunnel to avoid possible injury by falling rocks.

The islands 11,000 residents have been told to monitor communications by the civil protection authority. The island was shaken late Saturday by a 4.3-magnitude quake. Seismic activity began in the area on July 17.Like all the Canary Islands, El Hierro was formed by volcanic activity. It has some 500 volcanic cones.

via Volcanic eruption alert on Spanish Canary Island – Yahoo! News.