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Climate change makes some volcanic plumes less effective at reducing global temperatures

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Volcanic eruptions play an important role in cooling the planet. But scientists are concerned that climate change could make eruptions less effective at lowering global temperatures. Credit: © J. Helgason, Shutterstock New analysis of ash clouds created from large volcanic eruptions shows the temporary cooling effects are changed as the environment becomes hotter.

On 15 June 1991, the Mount Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines erupted with a cataclysmic explosion so violent that the volcano collapsed in on itself. Its gas and ash cloud reached about 40 km into the air, and in the weeks that followed, the cloud entered the stratosphere and spread around the globe. During the next year, the average global temperature dropped by about 0.5 degrees Celsius.

A volcano is an opening in the Earth’s crust that allows hot, molten rock to escape to the surface. It also allows gas and ash to escape from the high-temperature interior of the earth.

Volcanic eruptions play an important role in cooling the planet. The sulfur gases from the volcanic plumes combine with other gases in the atmosphere, and these aerosols scatter solar radiation, reflecting it into space. But scientists are concerned that climate change could make eruptions less effective at reducing […]

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