Monday, February 21, 2011

Cold Weather Due to Iceland's Volcano?

Everyone forgot that Iceland injected a great mass of particulate into the Northern Hemisphere well above the polar enclosing jet stream causing a lot to stay inside the Arctic air mass.  Unsurprisingly we have a decisively changed weather system.

This particular effect should be gone as we now head into spring.

Worse news is that another major volcano in the center of the island is suddenly showing a lot of activity.  Its capacity to produce ash is much larger and it is able to cause crop threatening cooling.

I will not bother with the name as no one can pronounce or spell it anyway.  If it erupts then that will be soon enough.

Cold weather due to Iceland's volcano?

February 5th, 2011 11:01 am ET

We're hearing all kinds of reasons for the cold snap and severe weather globally, with the result that the global-warming thesis is being raked over the coals, so to speak.  But is anyone discussing the Icelandic volcanic eruption of last year as the cause? It seems as if most of the world has forgotten the eruptions of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, "which, although relatively small for volcanic eruptions, caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe over an initial period of six days in April 2010."

If history is an example, it is quite possible that this season's arctic freeze in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as other weather patterns such as the cyclone in Australia, are results mainly of this recent volcanic event on Iceland. Indeed, this phenomenon is common enough to have a name, "volcanic winter."

Historic cases of volcanic winter

The following examples of volcanically induced weather disruptions come from the Wikipedia article "Volcanic Winter." Oddly enough, Wiki makes no mention of this past year's event and its possible role in this season's cold snap.

The extreme weather events of 535–536 are most likely linked to a volcanic eruption.

The Great Famine of 1315–1317 in Europe may have been precipitated by a volcanic event, perhaps that of Kaharoa, New Zealand, which lasted about five years.

In 1452 or 1453, a cataclysmic eruption of the submarine volcano Kuwae caused worldwide disruptions.

In 1600, the Huaynaputina in Peru erupted. Tree ring studies show that 1601 was cold. Russia had its worst famine in 1601 to 1603. From 1600 to 1602, Switzerland, Latvia and Estonia had exceptionally cold winters. The wine harvest was late in 1601 in France, and in Peru and Germany wine production collapsed. Peach trees bloomed late in China, and Lake Suwa in Japan froze early.

A paper written by Benjamin Franklin in 1783 blamed the unusually cool summer of 1783 on volcanic dust coming from Iceland, where the eruption of Laki volcano had released enormous amounts of sulfur dioxide, resulting in the death of much of the island's livestock and a catastrophic famine which killed a quarter of the population. Temperatures in the northern hemisphere dropped by about 1 °C in the year following the Laki eruption.

The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, a stratovolcano in Indonesia, occasioned mid-summer frosts in New York State and June snowfalls in New England and Newfoundland and Labrador in what came to be known as the "Year Without a Summer" of 1816.

In 1883, the explosion of Krakatoa (Krakatau) also created volcanic winter-like conditions. The next four years after the explosion were unusually cold, and the winter of 1887 to 1888 included powerful blizzards. Record snowfalls were recorded worldwide.

Most recently, the 1991 explosion of Mount Pinatubo, another stratovolcano in the Philippines, cooled global temperatures for about 2–3 years.

As we can see, there is sound scientific reason to question whether or not what we are currently experiencing in many parts of the world is a volcanic winter resulting from the eruptions in April 2010 of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.

Further Reading

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