Planet Gore

Mother Nature, Serial Polluter (Cont.)

With the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, USA Today is worried about Gaia-genic global cooling:

The potential eruption of Iceland’s volcano Katla would likely send the world, including the USA, into an extended deep freeze.

“When Katla went off in the 1700s, the USA suffered a very cold winter,” says Gary Hufford, a scientist with the Alaska Region of the National Weather Service. “To the point, the Mississippi River froze just north of New Orleans and the East Coast, especially New England, had an extremely cold winter.

“Depending on a new eruption, Katla could cause some serious weather changes.”

Eyjafjallajokull, the Icelandic volcano that has continued to belch lava, ash and steam since first erupting last weekend, isn’t the direct problem. It’s Katla, the noisier neighbor, that’s the concern. If lava flowing from Eyjafjallajokull melts the glaciers that hold down the top of Katla, then Katla could blow its top, pumping gigantic amounts of ash into the atmosphere.

Scientists say history has proven that whenever the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupts, Katla always follows – the only question is how soon.

“If it (Eyjafjallajokull) continues to belch, then you worry,” says Hufford.

 

What’s key in having volcanic eruptions affect the weather is both the duration of the eruption, and how high the ash gets blasted into the stratosphere, according to Hufford.

For example, he says, Mount Pinatubo pumped ash for two days in 1991, and spewed it 70,000 feet into the stratosphere. This dropped temperatures worldwide about four degrees for about a year.

“When volcanic ash reaches the stratosphere, it remains for a long time,” reports Hufford. “The ash becomes a very effective block of the incoming solar radiation, thus cooling the atmosphere’s temperatures.”

Check out the plume-track at the Guardian. The ash cloud from Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced thus . . . somehow) has already shut down UK airports.

So . . . what might Katla do?

Thanks to Planet Gore reader M.S., who asks the pertinent question — given the day and the present U.S. regime: “Maybe we can tax the volcano?”

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