Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Regime change

Volcanoes may not have the longterm climactic cooling powers previously believed Volcanoes may not have the longterm climactic cooling powers previously believed Cristobal Garciaferro
12 Jan
2016
New evidence shows that a climate ‘regime shift’ took place in the 1980s, the largest such surge forward of global warming in 1,000 years

When the Mexican volcano El Chichón erupted in 1982, it killed 1,900 people and shocked many who had believed it to be extinct. Unknown to observers at the time, it also kick-started a chain of environmental changes. Using data from nearly 6,500 meteorological stations, a new study has found that numerous biophysical indicators – including the temperature and salinity of the oceans, the pH level of rivers, and the amount of ice and snow in the cryosphere – experienced significant changes over the five to six years following the eruption, travelling around the world from west to east. Crucially, it also saw rapid warming, as temperatures bounced back strongly from the initial cooling effects of the eruption.

‘Our work contradicts the perceived view that major volcanic eruptions lead to a cooling of the world,’ says Phillip Reid, Professor of Oceanography at Plymouth University’s Marine Institute. ‘We demonstrate that a major change took place in the world that involved a step change and move to a new regime in a wide range of Earth systems. It looks as if global warming has reached a tipping point where the cooling that follows such eruptions rebounds with a rapid rise in temperature.’

This article was published in the January 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Related items

BLACK FRIDAY 2

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

DurhamBath Spa600x200 Greenwich Aberystwythherts

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

With growing global awareness of the risks of hunting and…

Climate

Researchers have identified the extent of microplastic contamination throughout the…

Wildlife

The Thames Estuary has long been home to heavy industry,…

Wildlife

Whydahs and indigobirds, collectively known as the vidua finches, show…

Oceans

Whales sequester an enormous amount of carbon, making their protection…

Geophoto

In his ongoing photographic project, Carpathia, Nicholas J R White…

Energy

Artificial intelligence offers high potential solutions to the climate crisis,…

Wildlife

Rewilding projects across Europe are working to expand populations of…

Wildlife

Scientists are racing to prevent a deadly disease that kills…

Wildlife

Birds are a much-loved component of the natural world, serenading…

Tectonics

The unprecedented pause in human activity that took place during…

Wildlife

Since 2006, tiger habitats have shrunk by more than 40…

Climate

Advances in space-based lightning mapping have allowed scientists to measure…

Energy

The amount of energy used by the wealthy minority dwarfs…

Wildlife

Left denuded and depleted of wildlife following a decades-long civil…

Climate

Katie Burton explores the practicalities and ethics of geoengineering, the…

Energy

Though the pandemic has gripped the world's attention, lying just…

Climate

The IPCC embraced the notion of carbon offset schemes in…