Volcano gases have dual effects on the climate

Volcán Turrialba has been emitting as much as 5,000 tons of sulfur dioxide a day.

Volcanoes are some of those unpredictable factors that influence climate change calculations.

Scientists at the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica said that the emission of sulfur dioxide has reduced and that a measurement March 4 showed an amount of just 435 tons a day. During all of 2014 through Feb. 17 the average was about 1,000 tons a day with the exception of a spike to as much as 5,000 tons a day from last October to December, the Observatorio said.

In the case of sulfur dioxide, there are good and bad effects. The gas becomes sulfuric acid in the atmosphere and then acid rain. That is pretty obvious because the vegetation around Turrialba as well as its brother mountain Irazú is pretty well scorched by the acidic emissions.

Scientists report that sulfuric acid aerosols in the atmosphere reflect light from the sun back into space and have a cooling effect on the earth. They also seem to generate cloud cover, which also is reflective. So the effect is opposite from what many persons think.

There even is a plan to artificially spread  sulfuric acid aerosols to reduce the global temperature by about 1 percent.

Sulfur dioxide also is generated by human activity and forest fires. Some actual turrialba032415reductions in the earth’s global temperature have been recorded after the eruption of giant volcanoes.

With the current activity, Turrialba is not likely to make much of a change, but the mountain did erupt again about 10 a.m. Monday.

The eruption produced gas, vapor and some ash.  National park workers were forced to put on masks to protect themselves from the corrosive gas, said the Observatorio. Most of the material stayed within the craters.

The gas has been coming out since March 18.
Most recently affected by the emissions are Guayabo, Santa Cruz de Turrialba, Cerros de la Carpintera, Tres Ríos, Alto de Oreamuno, Coronado, Moravia, Guadalupe, Calle Blancos, Sabanilla, and San Pedro Montes de Oca.

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