Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hot volcanic eruptions could lead to a cooler Earth

13.06.2005


Volcanic eruptions may be an agent of rapid and long-term climate change, according to new research by British scientists. Vincent Gauci and co-authors Nancy Dise and Steve Blake of the Open University simulated the volcanic acid rain from one of Europe’s largest historical eruptions, the Icelandic Laki eruption of 1783, which caused widespread crop damage and deaths around Europe. Their finding are scheduled for publication in the American Geophysical Union journal, Geophysical Research Letters, later this month.



Gauci says, "we know that volcanic aerosol [airborne] particles reflect the Sun’s rays back out to space and also create more clouds that have the same effect. It all helps to cool the planet for a year or two. These simple physical relationships have been known for a while. Our findings show that volcanic eruptions have another, more indirect, effect: the resulting sulfuric acid from the volcano helps to biologically reduce an important source of atmospheric greenhouse gases. At the extreme, this effect could cause significant cooling for up to 10 years or more."

Blake says, "The amount of sulfur dioxide put out by Laki in nine months was ten times more than the amount that now comes from all of western European industrial sources in a year. That would have caused a major natural pollution event."


The researchers found that such eruptions create a microbial battleground in wetlands, with sulfate-reducing bacteria suppressing the microbes that would normally produce the powerful greenhouse gas methane. In other words, the sulfate-loving bacteria are victorious over the microbes producing methane, leading to a cooling effect.

"We did the simulation on a peat bog in Moray in northeast Scotland, an area we know was affected by the volcanic fallout from the Laki eruption," adds Gauci, "and found that the reduced methane emission lasts several years beyond the end of the acid rain. Our calculations show that the emissions would take many years to recover--far longer than volcanoes are currently understood to impact on the atmosphere."

The researchers now think that volcanoes may exert a more powerful influence over Earth’s atmosphere than was thought. Volcanoes may even be a more important regulator of wetland greenhouse gases than modern industrial sources of acid rain. "Wetland ecosystems are the biggest source of methane and for the most part are located in areas of the world that are remote from industrial activity.

But many of Earth’s wetlands seem to be located in volcanically active regions such as Indonesia, Patagonia, Kamchatka, and Alaska. Even some wetlands that are quite far away from volcanoes, such as those in Scandinavia or Siberia, will be regularly affected by Laki-like pollution events from Icelandic eruptions" says Gauci.

Gauci adds that there was a period of Earth’s pre-history when this effect may have created important climate changes. "This interaction may have been particularly important 50 million years ago, when the warm greenhouse climate of the day was due, in large part, to methane from the extensive wetlands that covered the Earth at that time. During that time, large volcanic eruptions could have been real agents of rapid climate change due to this mechanism."

The research also points to a long recovery period for wetland ecosystems that have experienced industrially-derived acid rain. Gauci says, "We’ve been getting on top of the sulfur pollution problem in Europe and the U.S. for a long time now. Our findings show, however, that the effects of acid rain can still linger for a long time."

Harvey Leifert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice
24.04.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Climate change in a warmer-than-modern world: New findings of Kiel Researchers
24.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>