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Sarah won't cool the earth

sarahvolc.png

I'd been wondering lately whether the Eyjafjallajokull volcano (which I pronounce, "Sarah") would have a cooling effect on the planet. There's precedent for this: Previous volcanoes have emitted so much ash that Earth's temperature actually dropped. In the early '90s, Mount Pinatubo erupted and lowered global temperatures by about 0.4 Celsius. (That experience, incidentally, is where a lot of the advocates for geo-engineering get their arguments for blasting sulfate particles into the air in order to combat global warming.)

So will Eyjafjallajokull -- sorry, Sarah -- do the same? Brad Plumer looked into it and concluded it wouldn't. Sarah is just too small.

Photo credit: NASA Goddard.

By Ezra Klein  |  April 20, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Comments

I realize cooling the Earth is a good thing, but can we not hope for a larger volcano eruption? Particularly Sarah's sister, Katia? We've got enough trouble from this "small" eruption.

Posted by: KathyF | April 20, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Eyjafjallajokull. I pronounce it "fa-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la". Of course, "Kull the Conqueror" is also acceptable.

"Sarah is just too small."

They just don't make volcanoes the way they used to. I blame the unions.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | April 20, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

An entity from the frigid north, wreaking havoc, spewing environmentally damaging gasses...yeah, Sarah seems like an appropriate name.

Posted by: MPaulGriffith | April 20, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Well, we could always try to trigger the Yellowstone Caldera, which would definitely cause a mini-ice age and totally change the face of life as we know it on this earth (in addition to wiping out all life in western North America).

The answer to our problem was in our backyard the whole time! It's like ANWAR but way more efficient! Drill, baby, drill!

Posted by: HerooftheBeach | April 20, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

You know, giving someone an "easy" western name because you can't pronounce their name is a wee bit racially insensitive, to say the least. If I had a penny for everyone who said "I'm just going to call you Bob"...

I would go for Evja, short, atleast evocative of the actual name, and not a name that reminds one of America's stupidest politician.

Posted by: theOliveRidley | April 20, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Its not powerful enough to get the ash high enough. For it to cool the planet, like Pinatubo did in the early 1990s, the eruption would have to send the sulfates into the stratosphere (which starts at about 6 miles up). It is now only sending the ash up to the upper reaches of the troposphere. This means that it will quickly fall to the ground (2-3 days). In the stratosphere, it could circulate for years before falling away.

Also -- its not near the equator. In the tropics, the increased speed of the earth's rotation would quickly send the ash around the world. Up near the poles, the ash will stay localized.

Posted by: andrewholland | April 20, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Its not powerful enough to get the ash high enough. For it to cool the planet, like Pinatubo did in the early 1990s, the eruption would have to send the sulfates into the stratosphere (which starts at about 6 miles up). It is now only sending the ash up to the upper reaches of the troposphere. This means that it will quickly fall to the ground (2-3 days). In the stratosphere, it could circulate for years before falling away.

Also -- its not near the equator. In the tropics, the increased speed of the earth's rotation would quickly send the ash around the world. Up near the poles, the ash will stay localized.

Posted by: andrewholland | April 20, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

This is just going to cause confusion. Jon Stewart has already renamed the volcano "Kevin."

Posted by: SqueakyRat1 | April 20, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

A Discovery magazine blogger suggested calling it "Kull," which is pretty cool.

But in all seriousness, since all the name means is "Island-fells glacier" why not call it "Island-Fells"?

Posted by: Isa8686 | April 20, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Sarah's not the problem, Katla is:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2010/0418/Iceland-s-Eyjafjallajoekull-volcano-is-nothing-to-Angry-Sister-Katla

http://www.csmonitor.com/From-the-news-wires/2010/0322/Iceland-volcano-blast-sparks-concerns-of-larger-volcano-eruption

That latter article also mentions the volcano Laki, which was seriously bad news back in the day (1783).

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 20, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

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