Has the Icelandic dust cloud helped reduce global warming?
In recent times, the world has seen tons of volcanic ash being ejected up into the Earth’s stratosphere, all thanks to the eruptions of a Volcano in Iceland. It’s not on the scale of the massive eruptions that caused the deaths of the Dinosaurs millions of years ago. But some experts now think that small eruptions might help to offset the phenomenon known as global warming. As many flights across Europe are cancelled due to prevailing weather conditions sending particles of ash and dust across various countries and inhibiting flights from many countries, some ask has this helped our overall environment? The answer seems to be YES. But if so – then why?
In a normal typical time period we can expect to see 20,000 flights happen in the general European area. Due to severe cancellations because of Volcanic dust clouds across the EU, only 6,000 flights have taken place. There are less carbon emissions being made by aircraft. There is less fuel being spent by companies and governments, and less being used by aircraft. Economically money has been saved, though economies have lost money too through lack of trade and export. But the environment has been irrevocably altered. The normally rumbling skies are quiet. The quantity of airplane contrails in the sky’s upper atmosphere has been reduced. People are more grounded, and resorting to other means of transport. The normal amount of business done by Sea ferries has increased considerably, but for short distances. But the sheer amount of travel happening over longer distances has been reduced. It seems there is a silver lining in this strange unusual weather after all.
The whole argument from scientists that we have been getting lately is that we are altering the general temperature of the whole world due to human industry and activity. Commerce and rising consumption of natural resources is supposed to be a cause of this. There is a sizable number of people who question this theory also, maintaining that the argument has not been fully proved on Global Warming. But now some experts claim this new dust cloud caused by the Icelandic volcano might be benefiting the so called warming process, by slowing it down or reducing it.
In the 1980’s in the Philippines, a huge volcano called Mount Pinatubo erupted, sending 20 million tons of ash and dust into the Earths stratosphere. There was so much of it, and it spread around the world so much that over a period of about 2 years, it resulted in the global cooling of the world by between 0.5 and 1.0 degree in temperature. The Icelandic eruption is not as big as Pinatubo. It’s quite small by comparison. But scientists are watching and collecting data on a daily basis to see what the overall effect will be for many countries. It has already had a negative effect on Icelandic people already. Their country is covered in a thick layer of Ash. How will it affect Asthma sufferers or people with breathing difficulties? Its human cost and health cost has still to be fully measured.
We all recently experienced Earth Hour, when we all collectively turned off the TVs, appliances and lights for one hour to try to help reduce the carbon emissions a small bit. This seismic event in our weather patterns over Europe this week has smashed the record set by that world event, but by how much?
Could Volcanoes themselves or Mother Nature be the real reason our environment and overall warming has stayed at its current temperature for so long? Is Nature really regulating life on Earth as we know it, and not us Humans as we are being taught to believe? It’s a sobering thought. It is incredible to think that an event like a volcanic eruption- something we have no control over – can have such a huge affect on our lives. And to think that it can end up being something in the end that we are all eventually grateful for.
Some Icelandic Volcano trivia:
Icelandic Volcanoes are supposedly the world’s most active volcanoes. One third of the total lava in the word in the last 500 years has been produced by Icelandic Volcanoes. Iceland has 130 volcanoes, 18 of them have erupted since the settlement of the Vikings from way back in history. The eruption of Laki Volcano that happened in 1783 was the largest eruption in the last 500 years. Many geologists say that the eruptions at Eldgja that happened in 934AD were bigger still.
Iceland is about the size of the U.S. State of Ohio. With 130 volcanoes, each person in Iceland is always very close to a volcano. Iceland sits on a massive tectonic gap or rift between 2 huge tectonic plates that cover part of the Earth’s surface. The constant movement of the tectonic plates results in fissures where the plates meet, and when lava squeezes up these gaps to the surface through the volcano chimneys, we get eruptions as we all saw in Iceland recently. Mostly this normally happens at points below water level, but not in Iceland. There you get the full effect above ground.
Were it not for these 2 plates crashing against each other, Iceland would lie on the Arctic seabed. Because of massive volcanic eruptions over the many millennia the island of Iceland as we know it today was formed. It happened approximately 70 million years ago. In the 1960’s the new Icelandic Island of Surtsey was formed when massive underwater eruptions spewed out from an underwater volcano and scientists are fascinated by how animals like birds have come to colonize the island. Icelandic are the most closely studied volcanoes in the world as they are the easiest to monitor above ground. They erupt roughly once every 5 years.
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- This is a page from The Smithsonian Institute on Iceland and its main volcanoes
This shows the many hot spots of Iceland, a heavily populated island with more volcanoes than any other country in Europe. Most of it's volcanoes are above ground level, and there are many facts, pictures and figures available...