Sunday, April 18, 2010
Eyjafjallajökull is the icecap glacier covering the volcano of the same unpronounceable name meaning "island-mountains glacier" in the Viking language. With a summit elevation of 5,466 ft (1,666 meters), the crater beneath the glacier is 2 to 2.5 miles (3–4 kilometers) wide. This volcano erupted in 920, 1612 and 1821-1823.
Dormant for almost 200 years, the recent eruptions began 20 March 2010, and then again last week on 14 April. The March 20 eruption blew a half mile (1 kilometer)-long hole in the ice of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier and forced a brief evacuation of around 500 local people.
Eyjafjallajökull NASA Imagery
The April eruption has been ten to twenty times more powerful, forcing local evacuations and causing massive disruption to air traffic across Northern Europe.
"We're into the third day of this; there is no sign of this abating," British airline analyst Jamie Bowden said on Saturday. "It may go on into the middle of next week, and it's going to get more difficult before it gets better."
The last eruption in the glacier lasted two years, from 1821 to 1823.
To quote Vice-Perpetrator Joe Biden: "This is a big eff-ing deal!"
This is what I want to know:
The Greenies moan about industrial effluents pumping "greenhouse gases" into the atmosphere - which apparently are water vapor and carbon dioxide, both of which occur naturally in the atmosphere despite human activity - being the cause of global warming and an impending disaster of epic, global proportions.
When global temperatures gradually dropped over the last two decades, the hue and cry shifted to a whacko theory that's easier to defend - climate change.
Here's the problem with the whole human-generated-greenhouse-gas-induced-global-warming-climate-change scenario, and I've been saying this for years: when a volcano the size of Eyjafjallajökull goes off, more "greenhouse gases", chloro-flourocarbons and carbon monoxide get pumped into the air in the space of three days than the total industrial effluents of the entire human race for three years.
Therefore - according to the global-warming-climate-change gurus - civilization should have been wiped from the face of the Earth at least three times over, by now.
Of course we're going to get some of that "climate change" now, and the culprit is Mother Nature, not our decadent Western lifestyle based on worship of the internal combustion engine.
The year 1816 was known as The Year Without a Summer, in which severe summer climate abnormalities destroyed crops in Northern Europe, the Northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Average global temperatures decreased about 0.7 – 1.3 °F (0.4 – 0.7 °C), enough to cause significant agricultural problems around the globe.
1816 Summer Temperature Anomaly
This climate anomaly is believed to have been caused by a combination of a historic low in solar activity with a volcanic winter event caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped off by the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815, on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia. This was the largest known eruption in over 1,600 years.
In May and June of 1816, frost killed off most crops throughout New England. On 6 June 1816, snow fell in Albany, New York, and Dennysville, Maine. Nearly a foot of snow was observed in Quebec City in early June, with consequent additional loss of crops. In July and August, lake and river ice were observed as far south as Pennsylvania. The result was regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality; famine.
Failed harvests in the British Isles resulted in "climactic refugees" begging for food. Famine came to Ireland, following the failure of wheat, oat and potato harvests. The crisis was severe in Germany, where food prices rose sharply. Due to the unknown cause of the problems, demonstrations in front of grain markets and bakeries, followed by riots, arson and looting, took place in many European cities. It was the worst famine of the 19th century.
In China, the cold weather killed trees, rice crops and even water buffalo. Floods destroyed many remaining crops. Mount Tambora’s eruption disrupted China’s monsoon season, resulting in overwhelming floods in the Yangtze Valley in 1816. In India the delayed summer monsoon caused late torrential rains that aggravated the spread of cholera from a region near the River Ganges in Bengal to as far as Moscow.
I personally witnessed the aftermath of Mount Pinatubo:
The June 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in central Luzon, Republic of the Philippines, produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century (after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta) and the largest eruption in living memory.
Powerful eruptions on 12, 13 and 14 June hurled ash to heights of 24 km.
The ash plume of Mount Pinatubo, seen from Clark Air Base, Rep. of the Philippines.
The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide: roughly 10 billion metric tonnes (10 cubic kilometres) of magma, and 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide were ejected, and large amounts of aerosols were ejected into the stratosphere — more than any eruption since that of Krakatoa in 1883.
Over the following months, the aerosols formed a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F), and ozone depletion temporarily increased substantially.
Hong Kong sunset after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
Seismographs at Clark Air Base were rendered inoperative by June 14. Intense atmospheric pressure variation was also recorded. On the same day, Typhoon Yunya struck the island, passing about 75 km (50 miles) north of the volcano. The typhoon rains made direct visual observations of the eruption impossible, but measurements showed that ash was ejected to heights of 34 km by the most violent phase of the eruption, which lasted about three hours.
Ashfall from Mount Pinatubo, Clark Airbase, 1991
Volcanic ash covers everything like a layer of gray snow, but it is heavier than snow; it is essentially powdered rock. The ash is abrasive; it wears out machinery and disrupts the function of vehicle and aircraft engines.
Collapsed hangars at Clark Air Base
The ash cloud from the volcano covered an area of some 50,000 square miles (125,000 km²) which brought total darkness to much of central Luzon. Almost all of the island received some ashfall, which formed a heavy, rain-saturated snow-like blanket. Ashfall was recorded as far away as Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.
Vast quantities of minerals and metals were brought to the surface. An estimated 800,000 tons of zinc, 600,000 tons of copper, 550,000 tons of chromium, 300,000 tons of nickel, 100,000 tons of lead, 10,000 tons of arsenic, 1000 tons of cadmium, & 800 tons of mercury was introduced to the surface environment.
Space Shuttle (Mission STS-43) photograph of the Earth over South America taken on August 8, 1991, showing double layer of Pinatubo aerosol cloud (dark streaks) above high cumulonimbus tops
Despite all these efforts of Gaia to rid herself of human infestation, Life on Earth as we know it survived, somehow, and thrived . . .
- Sean Linnane