BALI’s largest volcano, Mount Agung, looks set to erupt any day now and the event will have a shocking impact on the world’s temperature.
Even though the enormous volcano is likely to spew out molten lava and vast amounts of ash and sulphur dioxide, the Earth is actually set to become a little bit cooler.
The gases and dust particles thrown into the atmosphere during the eruption will help cool the planet by shading incoming solar radiation – effectively providing a partial sun block.
Meanwhile, the sulphur dioxide reacts with the water vapour in the air to form droplets of sulphuric acid.
These droplets accumulate in the Earth’s stratosphere and form a haze, which acts as a barrier to UV rays and results in a cooling effect.
The cooling effect can sometimes last for a few years, according to Professor Arculus, an Emeritus Professor in geology at the Australian National University, but eventually the droplets will fall back to Earth.
He said the change in temperature “doesn’t last long enough for us to notice”.
He added: “It’s more likely to be an instrumental effect that scientists notice.”
When Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, global atmospheric temperatures dropped by 0.1-0.4 degrees Celsius.
While this may not sound like a lot, even the smallest change in temperature can have a huge effect on the Earth.
The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, had a huge effect on global temperatures.
Professor Arculus explained: “After its eruption, it was known in Northern Europe and northeast America as ‘The Year Without Summer’.
“It caused a big enough temperature drop that there was frost in the New England region of the United States in August and that’s unheard of. And [there were] widespread crop failures.
“Global temperatures were affected enough for the people who were trying to grow things and feed animals to notice the effect.
“There’s no notion yet that Agung will have an eruption as large as Tambora.”