Two Green Leaves

Climate Change from the Affected Generation

The Climate Effect of Volcanoes 20 June 2015 | Posted in News

 We all know about those bad, evil, horrible, awful greenhouse gasses but what about the ones that are good? Well, this tiny particle called an aerosol isn't really a greenhouse gas, it's the exact opposite. An aerosol particle is very reflective, therefore reflecting heat, light and ultraviolet rays back to space. Aerosols often come in sulfur gasses (hint, volcanic eruptions) which as you probably know, has an awful smell. Aerosols can be produced by humans and so while the carbon emission rate has risen, so has the aerosol emission rate. Unfortunately, the effect of this is very small because aerosols don't stay in the troposphere long until they go someplace that I don't even know of so we probably shouldn't depend on aerosols to get us out of this situation. Humans aren't the only thing that can release sulfur gases though. There are also large, red, explosive, fiery monsters. In other words, volcanoes!!!

When a volcano erupts, it releases massive amounts of sulfur gasses and if it has enough energy can spread it into the stratosphere which is a layer higher than the troposphere (the layers from lowest to highest goes like this: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere and finally the thermosphere.) Since gravity has no effect on aerosols, they usually don't make it to the stratosphere but if they do, their life is significantly longer. But do keep in mind that while volcanoes may keep the part of the earth cooler for a while, the aerosol particles eventually fall out of the atmosphere (I just read where they go once they're out of the atmosphere) and the carbon emissions start to set in. Before I start the next paragraph please do keep in mind that volcanoes are natural carbon and aerosol emitters and this is all just a natural process that we can't (and shouldn't) interrupt. This is just something that I thought would be fun to write about.

  Most of the carbon dioxide in the earth is stored in rocks such as limestone and cooled lava or a more technical term, magma. These rocks store millions of GtC (gigatonnes of carbon). In case you don’t know how much a Gt is, for comparison if you weighed each person in the whole world (roughly 7 billion people) and combined all that data into one weight, it still wouldn’t be a Gt. There is a slow natural process called rock exchange which releases about 0.1 Gt of naturally produced carbon each year. It’s really fun to learn about and so here it goes:

  First, a volcano explodes which can provide enough energy to release the carbon from the rocks and blasts it into the stratosphere along with sulfur gasses and a bunch of other junk. The carbon dioxide stays up there for a few decades but then gets trapped in the condensation process and  makes acid rain with a pH of 5.6. When the rain falls, it eventually flows into the ocean where tectonic plates drive the carbon deep into the earth over millions of years. It is driven so deep that it combines with the magma and is then cooled and trapped inside of rocks. So now the carbon is back in the rocks ready to start the whole process over again. And again. And again. And again (I don’t know about you, but I would be bored out of my MIND if I was a carbon dioxide molecule) ect.

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One comment

Catherine Clark, on 29-06-’15 17:29

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