In Cold Climate Change we will take a good look at the increasingly violent world of volcanoes. In April of 2015 we have some big volcanoes blowing their tops off adding more sunlight-blocking materials high into the atmosphere. Many major eruptions have happened, or are in progress, with no one publically paying attention to their cumulative cooling effect.
Last week (aPRIL 22, 2015) southern Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupted for the first time in nearly half a century, spewing a giant funnel of ash ten kilometers high into the sky and prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency. The 6,500 foot (2,000-meter) Calbuco last erupted in 1972 and is considered one of the top three most potentially dangerous among Chile’s 90 active volcanoes. “During the most intense phase, an impressive lava fountain could be seen jetting from the vent and the eruption column rose to more than 15 km altitude,” says volcanodiscover.com. “Ballistic incandescent bombs were ejected to distances of up to 5 km.” Virtually no warning of an impending eruption – just a mere two hours of intense seismic activity before it blew its top.
Debris sent into the stratosphere by an eruption can include volcanic ash, chemicals and gases, specifically sulfur. This debris decreases the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the planet. Following an eruption, debris can build in the stratosphere over time and linger for years after. Increasing volcanic eruptions have been spewing ash into the atmosphere over the last 14 years are partially responsible for global cooling.
Looking at global magnitude six (M6) or greater from 1980 to 1989 there was an average of 108.5 earthquakes per year, from 2000 to 2009 the planet averaged 160.9 earthquakes per year: that is a 38.9% increase of M6+ earthquakes in recent years.
The most recent study by the USGS finds there were more than twice as many big earthquakes in the first quarter of 2014 as compared with the average since 1979. “We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,” said lead study author Tom Parsons, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in California.
Magma is rising at the Turrialba Volcano in Costa Rica. It’s most recent eruption sent ash 2 kilometers into the air. Peru’s Ubinas volcano recently exploded, spreading ashes over nearby village. The Mount Sinabung volcano in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province erupted spewing a column of ash also by up to two kilometres into the sky and made people run for their lives.
In Peru the Moquegua Regional Council issued a declaration of emergency in light of the dangers posed by the recent activity of the Ubinas volcano. Within the last two weeks, the Ubinas volcano has erupted seven times with significant energy, releasing vast waves of ash and causing an impressive mudslide. The region has been under tension and authorities have warned the population of evacuation plans in the case of an emergency.
April 10 of 2015 marked the 200th anniversary of the 1815 Tambora eruption in Indonesia. The enormous explosion changed global climate, causing a "year without a summer" in the Northern Hemisphere. Sulfur dioxide from Mount Tambora lingered in the atmosphere for several years, cooling the planet and triggering crop failures, famine and human disease pandemics in North America, Europe and Asia. "People were eating cats and rats," said Stephen Self, a volcanologist at the University of California, Berkeley and an expert on the Tambora eruption. Scientists are estimating that there is a 30% chance of another Tambora-size eruption striking this century.
There is growing unrest at Mount Paektu. Last time she blew her top 1,000 years ago Paektu unleashed energy equal to 1 million atom bombs. Professor Yoon Sung-hyo of Pusan National University says there are indications that the volcano, though quiet for decades, could erupt any time and urged closer monitoring of the situation. The last eruptive activity at the volcano occurred in 1903, though prior past eruptions were among some of the largest in recorded history. He says the concentration of helium in the volcano has been rising over the last decade or so, and magma levels are creeping up. Yoon has been warning of another eruption since 2010.
“It’s hard really to imagine the scale,” Clive Oppenheimer, a professor of volcanology at Cambridge University said, “but you’re talking about something like 1,000,000 nuclear weapons all going off at the same time in terms of the energy involved.” The eruption changed the landscape dramatically, leaving behind a three-mile crater, today known as Heaven Lake.
Mount Zao Shaken by Swarm of Tremors – Volcano Last Erupted 75 Years Ago
Mount Zao last erupted in 1940. Fears of fresh eruption of Mount Zao, a volcano that sits on the border of the Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures, rattled Japan after the country’s meteorological agency recorded 12 volcanic earthquakes in mid-April. The seismic activity prompted warnings of a volcanic eruption, with the agency asking the public to stay safe from falling rocks in a 1.2 km radius of the volcano.
A time bomb is ticking in eastern Congo. Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano, could erupt at any moment. The crater of Mount Nyiragongo contains the largest and most voluminous lava lake in the world, measuring a staggering ten million cubic meters. Celestin Kasereka, who works for the volcanological observatory in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, considers Mount Nyiragongo to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. “Nyiragongo is one of three volcanoes in which the lava lake is still active and it is situated right next to Goma with its one million inhabitants. We have to monitor this volcano,” he said.
Yellowstone National Park is the home of one of the world’s largest volcanoes, one that is quiescent for the moment but is capable of erupting with catastrophic violence at a scale never before witnessed by human beings. In a big eruption, Yellowstone would eject 1,000 times as much material as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. This would be a disaster felt on a global scale, which is why scientists are looking at this thing closely. On Thursday, a team from the University of Utah published a study, in the journal Science that for the first time offers a complete diagram of the plumbing of the Yellowstone volcanic system.
The new report fills in a missing link of the system. It describes a large reservoir of hot rock, mostly solid but with some melted rock in the mix, that lies beneath a shallow, already-documented magma chamber. The newly discovered reservoir is 4.5 times larger than the chamber above it. There’s enough magma there to fill the Grand Canyon nearly 14 times.
Solar Earth Connections
Global warming fanatics hate to think about the sun and how it affects life down here on planet earth. A 1967 study published in the Earth and Planetary Science journal, stated: “Solar activity, as indicated by sunspots, radio noise and geomagnetic indices, plays a significant but by no means exclusive role in the triggering of earthquakes.”
A 1998 report by a scientist from the Beijing Astronomical Observatory states “Earthquakes occur frequently around the minimum years of solar activity.” As reported on NewScientist.com and numerous other science sites, including Space.com, the sun has recently entered into its lowest (minimum) activity levels in four centuries, coinciding with an increase in global seismic activity. “Solar activity is declining very fast at the moment,” Mike Lockwood, professor of space environmental physics at Reading University, UK, told New Scientist. “We estimate faster than at any time in the last 9300 years.”