Only 5 volcanoes to save civilization?
Sounds far-fetched but that claim by some futurists is backed up by solid science.
Volcanos actually could reverse climate change, at least the right sort. That’s because many volcanoes spew massive amounts of dust into the upper atmosphere while others pump great volumes of SO, a.k.a. sulphur dioxide which turns into sulphurous acid.
Sulphurous acid has two major actions in the atmosphere. First, it destroys ozone which is bad, second, it blocks solar heat from reaching the surface which happens to be good when faced with global warming.
The number 5 is just my rough estimate, one large volcano could do it, but it would be so large that it would cause vast damage. 5 or 10 violent, but less catastrophic volcanoes would be preferable and more likely to occur.
[Hard Science Note: Sulfur (sulphur Br.) dioxide plus water in the atmosphere SO 2 ( g ) + H 2 O ( l ) → H 2 SO 3 ( l ) sulphurus acid (often erroneously called sulphuric acid by lay persons and Oil of Vitriol by alchemy fans) is a powerful solar blocker, the exact opposite of CO2 and Methane. CH4 is the result of rotting vegetation (hence the common name swamp gas) which also takes place in a cow’s stomach.) Sulphuric acid or H2SO4 is very well known as it is the chemical in a car’s starter or lead-acid battery.
Why is ozone important? People ridicule the damage claimed for the ozone hole by saying they will put on sunscreen. Unfortunately, people seldom wear UV-blocking glasses and no animal I know of has them. UV which is blocked by ozone can and will cause blindness.]
Human activity is responsible for most of the SO2 (diesel engine exhaust and the stink you recognize when burning coal) in the atmosphere which is not a major problem except for people’s breathing because human-generated SO2 is mostly in the lower 5-6 miles or 10 km of the atmosphere where it does no good when it comes to blocking solar heating of the earth.
Many powerful volcanoes which emit vast quantities of SO2 can do so with great power, squirting the gas into the upper atmosphere as high as 50 km where it DOES block solar heat and thus combats global warming.
Various factors affect this action. For example, a small eruption in the north or extreme south is much more important than one near the equator the distance to the troposphere/stratosphere decreases with latitude.
Volcanoes producing dust which can stay in the upper atmosphere for months will also block solar radiation by reflecting it.
We Have Volcanoes So Why Is There Global Warming?
So, if volcanoes are good for the atmosphere at this time, why aren’t they solving the global warming problem which virtually everyone now recognizes, even climate change deniers who are paid by the oil and gas industries to muddy not only the sky but the science – more correctly the public opinion.
There are two reasons.
First, not all volcanoes help. Small ones or those like those on the Hawaiian islands which erupt slowly and mostly spread lava don’t help. The recent undersea volcano in the Tonga region of the Pacific spewed vast amounts of water into the atmosphere and water vapor acts like methane and carbon dioxide to increase global warming. Fortunately, there are few powerful undersea volcanoes that push water into the upper atmosphere.
The second and really serious reason volcanic activity hasn’t helped with global warming (YET!) is that we have just passed through a very quiet period of volcanic activity and solar activity which are, strangely enough, linked at least statistically, if not causally. (That means that, although we don’t really know for certain why both occur at the same time, centuries of data show that they do so.
Fortunately, we appear to be entering a period of increased volcanic activity.
Volcano minimums Background
What causes the variation in how many eruptions occur? In the kind of coincidence which makes ecology such a complex and fascinating study, it turns out that solar activity seems to be strongly linked with volcanic activity and one explanation has been recently proposed by Valentina Zharkova (NOTE, see the end of this report for the abstract of her most recent paper.)
Her work as seen in published papers show a strong correlation between solar activity and the movement of Earth’s magnetic pole.
The “N” end of compasses now points to the north pole but records in volcanic rock (as lava cools it locks in the direction of Earth’s magnetic field) show conclusively that periodically the magnetic field weakens and the poles actually switch places, that is, at some times in history the north pointer in a compass would point to the south pole.
The last time this occurred was 770,000 years ago but during the last 20 million years the magnetic pole flip (or geomagnetic reversal to use the scientific term) has occurred an average of once every 250,000 years which suggests the next flip is long overdue. https://futurism.com/earths-magnetic-poles-overdue-switch
This is well-known and proven science, at least for those who think the earth is older than 6,000 years. There is a lot known about this and nearly as much unknown about the pole flip but let us get back to volcanic activity which is what really concerns us most at this period in history.
There will be a lot of changes caused by the flip but what concerns us now is how this and solar activity seem to be tied to volcanic activity.
Scientists, foremost among them the aforementioned Valentina Zharkova (astrophysicist, Northumbria U. UK), suggest that as the magnetic poles move they cause something called a geomagnetic jerk which triggers increased volcanic activity.
It would make sense that with all the iron in the Earth’s core and crust, a major change in the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field could cause physical stress in the crust.
Scientists know that there is a close relationship between the 22-year Hale Magnetic Cycle and the number of active volcanoes.
From 1868 through 1950 the number of active volcanoes increased during the well-known 11-year solar magnetic field cycles.
Cycle 26 which should occur over a decade beginning in 2031, is expected, like the last 25 cycles, to produce an increased number of volcanic eruptions.
Although it is almost certain that the volcanic increase will happen, there is no guarantee that the right kind of volcanoes will erupt in the right latitudes and produce the desperately needed global cooling.
Even if they do, they will not make a big difference and it will not be a long-term fix.
Since climate change is occurring much faster than expected, that is, of all the projections made in the past decade, people were relying on the least-case or middle-case scenarios and, in fact, to not scare the public (or politicians) the extremes were seldom mentioned, but in just the past year weather extremes have all exceeded the worst-case projections, making it appear that we will need all the help from volcanic activity that we can get.
(A few months ago I suggested jokingly that a few well-placed pony nukes could trigger volcanic activity, not knowing that we were about to enter a more active period. That began my research on this article)
[Comments by a U.S. Geologist not involved in this solar/volcanic activity research: “This is an interesting correlation of the onset of volcanic activity with the known reversal of the Sun’s magnetic polarity, roughly every 11 years, but only when the sun’s field has a southern polarity. Although correlation does not prove cause-and-effect, it is worth noting, as it might lead to useful predictions of when a sudden cooler episode might be forthcoming.
Eruption at the Laki Fissure in Iceland in 1783 led to crop failures and loss of life in England especially, but also in eastern North America.
Mount Tambora in Indonesia caused the Year Without a Summer in 1916, with large crop failures that led to widespread starvation worldwide.
Others have noted that the Little Ice Age [~1300-1500, then ~1600-1850] was correlated with a protracted period when the sun had very few sunspots.
More importantly, huge volcanic eruptions cast huge amount of sun-blocking material high above the Earth that takes one or more years to settle out. This is not necessarily a good thing as it can cause massive crop failure and starvation, no matter if there is a correlation with the sun’s magnetic field or not.”
Robert Q. Oaks, PhD. (Geology Yale), Professor Utah State University 1979 – 1998, Emeritus Prof 1999 – present]
How Do We Know That Volcanoes Can Cool the Earth?
The biggest historical climate disaster took place in 536 A.D. which was nominated as “the worst year to be alive” by medieval scholar Michael McCormick ( Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History, Harvard, U.) and widely acknowledged as “The Year Without Sun.”
Although the cause certainly wasn’t known in Europe, it turns out that volcanic dust virtually destroyed civilization in 536 due to an eruption of Tierra Blanca Joven.in El Salvador which spewed an estimated 10 cu miles (43 cu km) of rock dust into the upper atmosphere.
When Krakatoa blew its top in 1883 the sound was literally heard around the world but it didn’t send a lot of ash into the upper atmosphere so it didn’t cause a worldwide disaster, only a short-term 1-degree F cooling. It also killed around 40,000 people but that was local. https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/the-1883-krakatau-eruption-a-year-of-blue-moons.html
In 1815, Mount Tambora (El Salvador) erupted creating “the year without a summer.” The 1815 eruption of Tambura reduced the global temperature by 3°C
The caldera left after the eruption in 1879 NASA public domainhttps://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/41581/lake-ilopango-el-salvador
The 1992-1994 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines caused nearly a ‘one-degree C (0.7° C) lowering of the Earth’s temperature.
Recent Volcano News
Scientists in New Zealand have increased the alert level for the Lake Taupo caldera, the volcano which lies beneath N.Z. ‘s biggest lake.
The Taupo volcano exploded nearly 2,000 years ago and was the largest eruption in the past 5,000 years.
New Zealand’s GeoNet detected almost 700 small earthquakes below Lake Taupo. Although it is impossible in the current stage of scientific knowledge to predict when a specific volcano will erupt, this is a worrying note.
The Sun also goes through cycles where its radiation level decreases. The latest solar minimum cycle known as the Grand Solar Minimum began two years ago and is projected to last 3 decades.
This won’t be a major decrease in solar heat output, nothing you could observe by just looking at the sun, but it is expected to reduce the Earth’s temperature DUE TO SOLAR activity by as much as 1 degree C.
Below are abstracts of some papers by V. Zharkova.
JULY 15, 2022 Paper By V. Zharkova
“Frequency of volcanic eruptions will increase in cycle 26 that can reduce terrestrial temperature￼
Volcanic eruptions are known to cause a terrestrial temperature reduction. For example, in 1992-1994 it was a significant cooling on Earth because of a large eruption of ashes into the stratosphere after the eruption of volcano Pinatubo in Philippines. This led to a reduction of solar radiation by 2.5 W/m^2 that, in turn, led to a reduction of temperature by 0.7C. The eruption of volcano Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 led to the reduction of a global terrestrial temperature by 3C. Hence, knowledge about possible volcanic eruptions in the future can help people to anticipate the consequences and to prepare humankind how to overcome these consequences.”
In the paper by Vasilieva and Zharkova, 2022 https://solargsm.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vasilieva_zharkova_volcanos.pdf, which will appear soon in the Astrophysical Journal, the authors demonstrated with the wavelet and correlation analysis that there is a strong correlation between the eruptions of volcanos in the last two centuries and 22 year activity cycles of the solar background magnetic field. This 22 years period is associated with the Hale’s magnetic cycle caused by the solar dynamo when the magnetic polarity of leading sunspot (or solar background) magnetic fields has the full recurrence.
We demonstrate that the largest number of volcanic eruptions occurs during 11-year cycles when the solar background magnetic field has a southern polarity. The maxima of eruptions in years 1868-1950 correlate closely (the correlation coefficient of 0.84) with the maxima of magnetic field of southern polarity. The next anticipated maximum of volcanic eruptions is expected during cycle 26 (2031-2042), when SBMF will have a southern magnetic polarity that can affect solar radiation input to Earth in the current Grand Solar Minimum (GSM) (2020-2053) (Zharkova et al, 2015 https://www.nature.com/articles/srep15689).
This finding becomes essential in the light of the Grand Solar Minimum the Sun entered in its magnetic activity in cycles 25-27, or 2020-2053. The solar activity already has shown the signs of reduction of sunspot numbers and formation of active regions https://www.sidc.be/silso/spotless, the further 60-70% reduction of solar activity is expected in cycle 26 owing to the GSM that can lead to a decrease of solar radiation deposited to Earth.
Therefore, in cycle 26 (2031-2042) when the solar background magnetic field will have southern polarity this can cause the increase of volcanic eruptions. This can lead to further reduction of the terrestrial temperature caused by the GSM that can temporarily offset any temperature increases occurred of the last few centuries … ”
MARCH 18, 2022 BY V. ZHARKOVA
Terrestrial volcanic eruptions and their association with solar activity
Irina Vasilieva1,+ and Valentina V. Zharkova2,3*+
Read full paper on arxiv.org
“We compare the frequencies of volcanic eruptions in the past 270 years with the variations of solar activity and summary curve of principal components of the solar background magnetic field (SBMF) derived from the WSO synoptic magnetic maps.
Quartile distributions of volcanic eruption frequencies over the four phases of a 11 year cycle (growth, maximum, descent and minimum) reveal higher numbers of eruptions occurring at the maxima of SBMF of southern polarity with some increases at the minima of sunspot numbers.
The frequency analysis of volcanic eruptions with Morlet wavelet reveals that the period of 22 years is more pronounced than 11 years. Comparison of the volcanic frequencies with the summary curve of SBMF for 11 cycles after 1868 (excluding 1950-1980 affected by the open nuclear bomb testing) reveals a strong correlation with the coefficient of -0.84 (within a confidence interval of 95%), while for 8 cycles in the early period of 1750-1868 the correlation becomes nearly twice lower.
This lower correlation was likely to be caused by the geomagnetic jerk and migration of the Earth’s magnetic pole to lower latitudes. The maxima of volcanic eruptions are shown to occur during solar activity cycles with the southern magnetic polarity that, in turn, can be associated with stronger disturbances of the geomagnetic field leading to the eruption number increase.
The next anticipated maximum of volcanic eruptions is expected to occur during cycle 26 (2031-2042), when the solar background magnetic field will have a southern magnetic polarity. These volcanic eruptions can contribute to terrestrial cooling during the modern grand solar minimum (GSM) (2020-2053).”