Washington: Volcanic eruptions might affect Earth`s climate by releasing far more weather-altering particles than scientists have suspected previously, a new study has found.
A team of researchers, who wanted to find out the influence of volcanoes on global climate, investigated the huge eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland on
March 20, 2010.
From a research station in France, they monitored the volcano`s eruption, which rapidly ejected large ash particles into the atmosphere and spread all over Europe.
They then analysed how many secondary particles this ash generated upon reacting chemically with other components of the atmosphere.
The particles created from the eruptions were mostly composed of sulfuric acid and grew over time, they found.
According to researchers, if sulfuric acid particles become large enough, they can behave as seeds for cloud formation. And the clouds, in turn, can alter the amount and type of precipitation an area receives, LiveScience reported.
The atmospheric data collected during the eruption suggest that volcanic eruptions can release up to 100 million times more ash particles than thought, the researchers said.
In addition, seeding particles can form at lower altitudes and farther distances from volcanoes than past studies had suggested.
"Most previous studies did not properly account for low-altitude impacts of volcanoes," said researcher Julien Boulon, a physicist at the Laboratory of Meteorology Physics of the French National Center for Scientific Research.
The findings, detailed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, point to the potentially broader climate influence that volcanoes could have, the researchers added.