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Name: Quaz J.
Status: Student
Age: 15
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: April 2002


Question:
Recent research on volcanic eruptions show that it causes global warming. I have not been able to find what gasses in volcanic eruptions contribute to earth's temperature. What gasses in volcanic eruptions cause an increase of global warming?



Replies:
Dear Quaz-

The gas that is most responsible for atmospheric warming is carbon dioxide. This gas absorbs the long-wave radiation from the earth with a corresponding increase in the atmospheric temperature. Carbon dioxide is found in significant quantities in volcanic gasses, but is easily absorbed by water.

Here is a link that contains a short description of volcanic contribution to the atmosphere and how it has evolved.

http://web.haystack.mit.edu/pcr/spaceweather/web%20page%20atmospheric%20gass es.html

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO


As far as I can recall, there are two main components of volcanic ash that contribute to global warming. The first, and probably foremost, is the particulate ash itself. I believe that it is thought to act as a sort of insulation layer, preventing the cooling of the Earth's surface that normally occurs at night. The second is carbon dioxide released during the eruptions. It is one of the primary "greenhouse gases", which absorb the heat themselves and hold it in the atmosphere. It is also believed to play a major role in maintaining the high temperatures on the surface of Venus.

Jeff Buzby, Ph.D.



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