The following is an excerpt from MEGHAN BARTELS | October 2, 2017 | Newsweek.com |
It's counterintuitive to imagine that any event spewing molten rock more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit could make anything cooler, yet that's precisely what volcanic eruptions do. But because volcanoes are unpredictable, that impact isn't accounted for in the models of climate change we use to make decisions about carbon emissions and to set goals for mitigation—in fact, this omission is one of the biggest gaps in those models.
A new paper in the journal Nature Climate Change attempts to solve the puzzle by modeling 60 different volcano scenarios and how they will impact climate. The results suggest that eruptions will likely play a role in modulating climate change over the next hundred years. But there's no reason to expect the impact will be enough to neutralize our carbon emissions.
Large volcanic eruptions can cool the planet because they release aerosols, tiny particles of ash and chemicals. Aerosols can reflect some sunlight away themselves, and they also act as the seeds around which clouds—which can also bounce sunlight away from Earth's surface—grow.
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