So far, Icelandic volcano isn't likely to cause a cooler summer


It may have succeeded at stranding Cory in the U.S., stranding Lisa in London and producing some beautiful sunsets (not to mention forcing John Cleese to pay for the world's most expensive taxi ride), but Mt. Eyjafjallajokull (say it 10x fast) isn't shaping up to drastically alter temperatures this year. At least, not so far, according to Alan Robock, professor of environmental sciences at Rutgers.

Robock told Climate Central's Andrew Freedman on Thursday that the output of Mt. Eyjafjallajokull hasn't put enough sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to create the sort of "Two-thousand-and-froze-to-death" conditions some have feared.

Sulfur dioxide particles from volcanoes can temporarily cool the planet by reflecting solar radiation back out into space, effectively limiting the amount of warmth that reaches Earth's surface. Big eruptions—including some in Iceland—have led to short-term cooler temperatures in the past, and it's possible that, if the eruption lasts long enough, Mt. Eyjafjallajokull could as well. But there's another factor working in favor of a comfy summer, Robock said.

The volcano's climate impacts may also be limited by its high latitude location, since the air circulation in the upper atmosphere in the high latitudes tends to be more efficient at getting rid of volcanic material, compared to lower latitudes where sulfur dioxide particles from volcanoes can linger for years.

Beautiful Eyjafjallajokull sunset shot courtesy Flick user Danny Mekic, via CC