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900 Pinatubos don’t make an ice age – research 23 February 2010

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Environmental Research Web Blog on some research published in J. Geophys. R. last year:

Robock and colleagues injected 300 ‘Pinatubos’ of SO2 into the baseline run of their models, but also tried amounts as great as 900 Pinatubos. With a dynamic vegetation module, they explored the feedback on global temperatures of widespread death of vegetation due to the volcanic cooling. The feedback was not very impressive. Precipitation dropped markedly, but cooling reached about 10 degrees at most, and recovery was nearly complete after about a decade.

The Volcanism Blog


1. George - 24 February 2010

I don’t believe that a volcano, in an of itself, will trigger an ice age. But a volcano of sufficient size when a lot of other things are lined up just right might be the trigger that tips the climate into one.

If you have a period of decreasing polar insolation, maybe a period of weak solar activity that allows more GCRs into the inner solar system, and the right weather with regard to persistent patterns, a volcano at the right moment could be the trigger to cause an increase in snowfall and resulting increased albedo that “flips” the system into glaciation.

In other words, it probably takes several things all lined up just right and a volcano could be the trigger.

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