Climate change might make effects of major volcanic eruptions worse


Climate change is predicted to make many natural disasters worse, but you probably didn't expect volcanoes to be on that list.

During major eruptions, released gases like sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, can effect temperatures worldwide, like the famous "year without a summer" in 1816.

But a recent study found as the planet warms, the impacts of those eruptions could get a lot worse, disrupting global temperatures and precipitation for years after.

SEE MORE: A Volcano In Bali Could Erupt For The First Time Since 1963

The sulfur dioxide an erupting volcano releases can create a cooling effect by shading Earth's surface from sunlight. The study, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, found that oceans, which usually buffer the planet against the worst of these effects, will become less effective as they heat up.

That means if the "year without a summer" eruption happened in the later half of this century, it could mean a much bigger dip in global temperatures. That cooling wouldn't be enough to make up for the effects of climate change, as some past studies have suggested, but the sudden drop could lead to a drastic reduction in global rainfall.

Scientists caution they have yet to figure out the exact magnitude of all this, saying they need better models to see how large these volcanic effects could be.

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Paricutin: The volcano that erupted out of a cornfield
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Paricutin: The volcano that erupted out of a cornfield
circa 1950: Ash pouring from Mount Par cutin, 'El Monstre', into the atmosphere. The volcano erupted from 1943 until 1952. The church in the village of San Juan was the only structure to be spared in the village, and still stands half buried in solidified lava. (Photo by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images)
Paricutin volcano began growing in a cornfield in Mexico with the start of its nine-year eruption beginning in 1943. Its volcanic cone grew to over 1,000 feet during the first year of the eruption.
A plume of ash rises from the Paricutin Volcano at an early stage of its eruption. (Photo by � CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
A cloud of black ash rises from Paricutin, seen here at the far side of a corn field. (Photo by � CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
The Paricutin Volcano emits an almost vertical column of black ash as it erupts. (Photo by � CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
An aerial view of the cone and crater of the Paricutin Volcano. (Photo by � CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
People and horses in the plaza of a small village near the Paricutin Volcano. (Photo by � CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
1943: Lava, vapour and fumes cover the landscape during the eruption of Paricutin Volcano. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
1943: Paricutin volcano, in Mexico, during its eruption. On the first day it reached a height of 100 feet and within three weeks it had covered an area of 1square mile with lava. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
circa 1948: Tourists trekking through the grim Mexican landscape in West Michoacan where the Paricutin volcano is still active. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
circa 1950: The ash from Mount Par cutin, 'El Monstre', pouring into the atmosphere. The volcano erupted from 1943 to 1952. A cross can be seen on the hill in the foreground. (Photo by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images)
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