How Volcanoes Influence Climate

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Volcanic eruptions both cool and heat the earth. When a volcano erupts, dust, ash, and sulfur are released into the atmosphere. Depending on how light the particles are, some will travel to the stratosphere while larger ones will fall to the earth’s surface.

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Small particles of dust and ash that remain in the stratosphere block the solar radiation hitting the earth, causing the planet to cool (“”How Volcanoes Influence Climate””, 2018). Due to the circulation pattern in the stratosphere, dust and ash can travel worldwide to locations far from which they erupted. This can last from month to years, depending on how big the particles are. Sulfur is also ejected into the atmosphere after volcanic eruptions. Sulfur travels to the stratosphere, where it merges with water. Once sulfur and water fuse, sulfuric acid aerosols form and create tiny droplets that reflect solar radiation, cooling the earth even more (“”How Volcanoes Influence Climate””, 2018). In contrast, volcanic eruptions can warm the earth by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide, a gas that plays a major role in the greenhouse effect. These greenhouse gases play a role as an insulator, preventing large quantities of the warm gases to leave the earth. Volcanic eruptions generate 110 million tons of carbon dioxide every year (“”How do volcanoes affect world climate?””, 2005).

The Tambora volcano eruption in 1815 in Indonesia shot volcanic columns up to 80,000 feet high, making it the largest eruption in world history. The volcano showed its immediate effects when the hot lava and pyroclastic flow killed 10,000 people (Ames, 2017). The volcano affected the climate,

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