Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Volcanoes helped slow ocean warming trend

13.02.2006


Richard P. Hoblitt/USGS

The June 12, 1991 eruption column from Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, as seen from Clark Air Base.


Ocean temperatures might have risen even higher during the last century if it weren’t for volcanoes that spewed ashes and aerosols into the upper atmosphere, researchers have found. The eruptions also offset a large percentage of sea level rise caused by human activity.

Using 12 new state-of-the-art climate models, the researchers found that ocean warming and sea level rise in the 20th century were substantially reduced by the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia. Volcanic aerosols blocked sunlight and caused the ocean surface to cool.

“That cooling penetrated into deeper layers of the ocean, where it remained for decades after the event,” said Peter Gleckler, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). “We found that volcanic effects on sea level can persist for many decades.”



Gleckler, along with LLNL colleagues Ben Santer, Karl Taylor and Krishna AchutaRao and collaborators from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Reading and the Hadley Centre, tested the effects of volcanic eruptions on recent climate models. They examined model simulations of the climate from 1880 to 2000, comparing them with available observations.

External “forcings,” such as changes in greenhouse gases, solar irradiance, sulphate and volcanic aerosols, were included in the models.

Oceans expand and contract depending on the ocean temperature. This causes sea level to increase when the water is warmer and to recede in cooler temperatures.

The volume average temperature of oceans (down to 300 meters) worldwide has warmed by roughly .037 degrees Celsius in recent decades due to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases. While seemingly small, this corresponds to a sea level rise of several centimeters and does not include the effect of other factors such as melting glaciers. That sea level jump, however, would have been even greater if it weren’t for volcanic eruptions over the last century, Gleckler said.

“The ocean warming suddenly drops,” he said. “Volcanoes have a big impact. The ocean warming and sea level would have risen much more if it weren’t for volcanoes.”

Volcanic aerosols scatter sunlight and cause the ocean surface temperature to cool, an anomaly that is gradually subducted into deeper layers, where it remains for decades.

The experiments studied by Gleckler’s team also included the more recent 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, which was comparable to Krakatoa in terms of its size and intensity. While similar ocean surface cooling resulted from both eruptions, the heat-content recovery occurred much more quickly in the case of Pinatubo.

“The heat content effects of Pinatubo and other eruptions in the late 20th century are offset by the observed warming of the upper ocean, which is primarily due to human influences,” Gleckler said.

The research appears in the Feb. 9 issue of the journal Nature.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.llnl.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system
21.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>