Changes in stratospheric composition, chemistry, radiation and climate caused by volcanic eruptions
Published:January 01, 2003
R. G. Grainger, E. J. Highwood, 2003. "Changes in stratospheric composition, chemistry, radiation and climate caused by volcanic eruptions", Volcanic Degassing, C. Oppenheimer, D. M. Pyle, J. Barclay
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The primary effect of a volcanic eruption is to alter the composition of the stratosphere by the direct injection of ash and gases. On average, there is a stratospherically significant volcanic eruption about every 5.5 years. The principal effect of such an eruption is the enhancement of stratospheric sulphuric acid aerosol through the oxidation and condensation of the oxidation product H2SO4. Following the formation of the enhanced aerosol layer, observations have shown a reduction in the amount of direct radiation reaching the ground and a concomitant increase in diffuse radiation. This is associated with an increase in stratospheric temperature and a decrease in global mean surface temperature (although the spatial pattern of temperature changes is complex). In addition, the enhanced aerosol layer increases heterogeneous processing, and this reduces the levels of active nitrogen in the lower stratosphere. This in turn gives rise to either a decrease or an increase in stratospheric ozone levels, depending on the level of chlorine loading.
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Humans have long marvelled at (and feared) the odorous and colourful manifestations of volcanic emissions, and, in some cases, have harnessed them for their economic value. The degassing process responsible for these phenomena is now understood to be one of the key factors influencing the timing and nature of volcanic eruptions. Moreover the surface emissions of these volatiles can have profound effects on the atmospheric and terrestrial environment, and climate. Even more fundamental are the relationships between the history of planetary outgassing, differentiation of the Earth’s interior, chemistry of the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and the origin and evolution of life. This book provides a compilation of 23 papers that investigate the behaviour of volatiles in magma, the feedbacks between degassing and magma dynamics, and the composition, flux, and environmental, atmospheric and climatic impacts of volcanic gas emissions.