Scientists believe that the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull will not impact significantly on our climate, according to a BBC story published yesterday.  This is hard to believe, as the volcano has been erupting for six days now and is predicted to have released approximately 150 million tonnes of ash, dust and greenhouse gases so far.  However, when comparing this eruption to previous volcanic episodes, your perception changes somewhat.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, released 100 times more ash and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  Within the first two hours of the eruption, the plume of ash was 21 miles high and 250 miles wide and in two weeks it had spread around the world.  All volcanoes emit tiny aerosol particles into the atmosphere that can reflect solar energy and as a result of Pinatubo’s eruption the global temperature in 1992 and 1993 decreased by about 0.5 °C. Eyjafjallajokull is not in Pinatubo’s league yet!

Taking into consideration the impact the eruption has had on air transport over the last six days, scientists believe that the carbon dioxide produced from the eruption is probably less than the amount we have saved by grounding European aircrafts.

I wonder whether these scientists have taken into consideration the increase in other land or sea based transports in order to compensate for the lack of planes.  Would anyone like to do some calculations?

If Eyjafjallajokull continues to erupt for two years as happened previously, it may start competing for the top spot in the volcano league table!!

Mike Brown

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