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Volcanoes and Global Cooling - Essay Example

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This essay talks about the connection between volcanic eruptions and the climate change which has become a global concern today. Therefore, this paper aims to explore the influence of volcanic eruption on global cooling and life on earth over a period of years. …
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Volcanoes and Global Cooling
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Download file to see previous pages The essay "Volcanoes and Global Cooling" talks about the climate changes, the effects of greenhouse gasses blamed for the global warming experienced in the world today. However, little attention has been given to the impacts of volcanic eruptions on climate change. Gray observed from the past volcanic reactions that the gaseous emissions released to the stratosphere particularly the sulfur dioxide can cause global cooling, which has the potential of impacting negatively on the climate. At the same time, the carbon dioxide released, being a greenhouse gas, also has the potential of enhancing global warming.
The impacts of volcanic erupt on climate change have triggered intense debate over the past few years, according to Self and Rampino. However, based on the past eruptions, scientists have discovered that the eruptions release gasses that later on causes global cooling. According to Self and Rampino, climatologists have discovered that the sulfur dioxide released from the eruptions is what is responsible for the global cooling. In the stratosphere, sulfur particles block the incoming radiation warming the stratosphere thereby reducing the amount of incoming radiation effectively cooling the troposphere. According to Self and Rampino, during powerful volcanic eruptions, sulfur dioxide is released into the stratosphere, where it is oxidized and mixed with water vapor to form sulfuric acid. The process, according to scientists takes about one month while the particles formed have a lifetime of up to three years. The sulfate aerosols formed prevents radiation from reaching the earth’s surface thereby resulting in global cooling. Self and Rampino note that past volcanic eruptions have lowered the earth’s average temperatures by up to half a degree for a period of up to one to three years (75). Benjamin Franklin is arguably the first scientist to notice the effects of volcanic eruptions on climatic change. According to Mass and Portman, Benjamin Franklin first noticed ‘dry fog’ in the summer of 1783 during his visit to Europe (566). Additionally, he observed during the winter that followed that Europe was abnormally cold. It is then that he suggested that the abnormally cold weather witnessed during the winter was the result of volcanic eruption. According to Mass and Portman, research conducted years later showed that the Laki Volcano in Iceland had indeed erupted in 1783 (566). Later on in 1816, Europe again experienced abnormally cold summer, when the year was nicknamed “Year without Summer” (Borowski par.3). Research conducted discovered that the cool summer was the result of a great eruption that occurred on the Mt. Tambora in Indonesia a year before (Borowski par.3). Additionally, in 1883, peculiar colors and halos were observed around the sun and moon accompanied with vibrant sunrises and sunsets. According to Mass and Portman, the occurrence was the result of the eruption of Krakatau volcano in Indonesia in July 1883 (567). Study showed that the eruption of Krakatau had other world consequences, which included the loss of about 20-30% of direct solar radiation for three consecutive years after the eruption. This resulted in a very prolonged cooling effect in most parts of Europe and Asia. The climatologists also noted the strong evidence of the volcanic eruptions on climate change following 1982’s strong eruption of El Chichon in Mexico (Mass and Portman 569). Like Krakatau, the eruption of El Chichon released large quantities of dust, carbon dioxide, ash, and sulfur dioxide into the stratospher ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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