Volcanoes and the connection they have to global warming

I was recently reading an article in the National Geographic about a “super volcano” in Yellowstone National Park, and I started thinking. Scientists in the article say that it is called a super volcano because it has shot out hundreds of cubic miles of lava and ash in one single eruption:

The Yellowstone region is often referred to as a “supervolcano” because it has spewed more than 240 cubic miles (a thousand cubic kilometers) of ash and lava in a single event. The most recent of these massive blasts occurred some 640,000 years ago.

When I heard this, my first thought was, “Are volcanoes in any way linked to global warming?” I kept pondering this question, and finally I decided to do some research.

According to a website called mi2g, volcanoes are linked to global warming in a few specific ways. The first of these ways is that global warming could cause more volcanic eruptions. Now I bet you’re thinking, “Why?” The explanation for this is that  global warming causes ice caps to melt, and once the ice caps melt, that takes a huge weight off magma below ground.  This act of nature would make it much more likely for lava to surge upward and pour out onto the land, thus creating a volcano, so soon there will be more eruptions:

Eventually there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in coming decades.

More volcanic eruptions would be pretty bad for humans. Recently, a volcano in Iceland named Eyjafjallajökull erupted, and even though it did not hurt humans, it had a devastating effect on Europe’s air transport because of all of the smoke it spewed. but volcanoes are not all bad. According to scientists in the mi2g article, volcanic eruptions could cool our planet. This phenomenon may seem unlikely, but it is a possibility. Volcanoes shoot sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere. The dioxide then transforms into sulphuric acid droplets. The acid droplets would reflect sunlight, thus not letting as much light from the sun reach the planet, thus cooling the Earth.

Now it seems pretty amazing that volcanoes cool the Earth right? Well, they are not all good. The gas they release into the atmosphere causes acid rain and destroys the ozone layer, which is a much needed barrier to the sun’s rays. So, all in all, volcanoes may cool the Earth, but they are also very destructive in many ways, and we should not rely on them as a solution to global warming at all.

Advertisements

4 responses to “Volcanoes and the connection they have to global warming”

  1. laurenm0017 says :

    I find it interesting that volcanoes harm and help the earth. You would never think that anything that spews molten lava can help the environment. Do you think if we as a world figure out a way to slow or stop icecap melting that volcanoes would erupt less? There is one thing I still don’t get after reading the articles how do the icecaps apply enough pressure to hold molten lava in? Wouldn’t the ice be melted by the lava? Also how can the icecaps way up north or down south affect the volcanic eruptions inland?

    • johns0117 says :

      The icecaps melting at the poles will not affect volcanic eruptions inland, but they will create more volcanic eruptions at those places, and that could still hurt our transportation just like the volcano in Iceland did. Also, the lava is not right below the icecaps, it is farther down in the ground, but the ice caps are so large and they weigh so much, that they keep the lava down.

  2. elizam0017 says :

    I think that your post was very interesting. I had never even thought about volcanoes having anything to do with global warming. I loved your use of quotes. I thought it was a great post!

  3. clarkbeast says :

    I saw this today that I thought I’d pass along. Never really thought that melted ice caps might be connected to volcanism (though I guess the idea makes sense), but here’s another source talking about the same thing. Mind you, the article makes sure to point out the following: “McGuire’s theory is controversial, however, and the effects wouldn’t be felt for decades or centuries in any event.” Still, it’s interesting.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/explainer/2012/10/drilling_to_the_mantle_could_it_cause_a_volcanic_eruption_.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: