Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Undocumented Volcano Contributed to Extremely Cold Decade from 1810-1819

08.12.2009
South Dakota State University researchers and their colleagues elsewhere in America and in France have found compelling evidence of a previously undocumented large volcanic eruption that occurred exactly 200 years ago, in 1809.

The discovery helps explain the record cold decade from 1810-1819.

Researchers made the finding by analyzing chemicals in ice samples from snow-capped Antarctica and Greenland in the Arctic. The year-by-year accumulation of snow in the polar ice sheets records what is going on in the atmosphere.

“We found large amounts of volcanic sulfuric acid in the snow layers of 1809 and 1810 in both Greenland and Antarctica,” said Professor Jihong Cole-Dai of SDSU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the lead author in an article published Oct. 25, in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Cole-Dai said climate records show that not only were 1816 — the so-called “year without a summer”— and the following years very cold, the entire decade of 1810-1819 is probably the coldest for at least the past 500 years.

Scientists have long been aware that the massive and violent eruption in 1815 of an Indonesian volcano called Tambora, which killed more than 88,000 people in Indonesia, had caused the worldwide cold weather in 1816 and after. Volcanic eruptions have a cooling effect on the planet because they release sulfur gases into the atmosphere that form sulfuric acid aerosols that block sunlight. But the cold temperatures in the early part of the decade, before that eruption, suggest Tambora alone could not have caused the climatic changes of the decade.

“Our new evidence is that the volcanic sulfuric acid came down at the opposite poles at precisely the same time, and this means that the sulfate is from a single, large eruption of a volcano in 1809,” Cole-Dai said. “The Tambora eruption and the undocumented 1809 eruption are together responsible for the unusually cold decade.”

Cole-Dai said the Tambora eruption was immense, sending about 100 million tons of sulfur gas into the atmosphere, but the ice core samples suggest the 1809 eruption was also very large — perhaps half the size of Tambora — and would also have cooled the earth for a few years. The researchers reason that, because the sulfuric acid is found in the ice from both polar regions, the eruption probably occurred in the tropics, as Tambora did, where wind patterns could carry volcanic material to the entire world, including both poles.

Cole-Dai said the research specifically looked for and found a special indicator of sulfuric acid produced from the volcanic sulfur gas in the stratosphere.

The special indicator is an unusual make-up of sulfur isotopes in the volcanic sulfuric acid. Isotopes are different types of atoms of the same chemical element, each having a different number of neutrons, but the same number of protons. The unique sulfur isotope composition is like a fingerprint of volcanic material that has reached the stratosphere, said Cole-Dai.

The stratosphere is the second major layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, reaching from about six miles to about 30 miles above the Earth’s surface at moderate latitudes. To impact global climate, rather than local weather, the sulfur gas of a volcanic eruption has to reach up into the stratosphere and once there, be spread around the globe.

Cole-Dai’s co-authors of the article are SDSU post-doctoral researcher David Ferris and graduate student Alyson Lanciki; Joël Savarino of the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environment in Grenoble, France; Mélanie Baroni of CEREGE (Le Centre Européen de Recherche et d’Enseignement des Géosciences de l’Environnement) at L’Université Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence, France; and Mark H. Thiemens of the University of California, San Diego.

The National Science Foundation funded the research.

Jihong Cole-Dai | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.sdstate.edu

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>