Thursday, April 15, 2010

Will Iceland Chill Global Warming?

Iceland is bankrupt; its currency is ice cold, and creditors frozen and stiffed.

The glaciers may be melting, or at least incinerating.

And yet the small island may cool the world.

How ironic.

A volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, has erupted under the glaciers, sending plumes of ash, silica, gasses, magna, and smoke into the sky, blowing over Ireland and England, and closing almost all major international airport hubs in Western Europe.

The amazing thing about nature is that we cannot control volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, sand storms, wind storms, and perhaps not even floods and wildfires, but they can control us, and the climate.

Beautiful sunsets can be spectacular. What causes sunsets? Air pollution or volcanic eruptions – in other words, pollution.

A few years ago a meteorologist, or was it a volcanologist, said the quickest way to cool the planet would be for 4 or 5 volcano eruptions the equivalent of Krakatoa to gird the planet.

It’s possible. Volcanic eruptions can add to global warming by spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

They can also lead to global cooling by spewing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

And we have no control either way. Humanity with all its science is but a spectator to these awesome forces of nature.

Tambora erupted in Indonesia in 1815. 1816 was known as the year without a summer. Pinatubo erupted on Luzon in 1991, destroying the famous Clark Air Force Base and cooling global temperatures by 1/2°C. The Pilipino volcano was 10 times greater than our Mt. St. Helens three decades ago.

The winter of 1783-4 was about 4.8° below the 225 year average. The cooling is believed to have been caused by the eruption of the Laki Volcano in Iceland.

The volcanic gasses and particles can reflect the sun back into space and serve as a blanket over the globe. Hence, global cooling.

Turn down the thermostat too much and we have an ice age. We don’t want that. The reappearance of glaciers in New England and the Great Plains is a scary thought. If a land bridge were once again connect Siberia to Alaska, then Tina Fey/Governor Palin"s claim to be able to see Russia from her house might be validated.

Just as we are apparently experiencing a number of large earthquakes these days, volcanic activity is also fairly strong. Several sites along the Pacific Ring of Fire have been blowing, including 4 on the Kamchatka Peninsula, underwater Mayon in the Philippines, Redoubt in Alaska, and Kilauea on the Big Island for decades, not to neglect several other volcanic disturbances around the planet.

Is it possible that a combination of these active volcanoes, as well as others that may erupt in the near future, will bring us to the Big Chill? Yes, but who knows
what the odds are? These variables certainly have played a major role in the planets climate history.

No reason exists to think the scenario will change in the future, or that man can control it.

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