Analysis of Effects of Volcano Locations on Climate

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Alexa Brotzman, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, CO

The purpose of this project is to determine if volcanic eruptions near the equator have a greater impact on climate than eruptions in the mid-latitudes. HYSPLIT model runs are used to map the aerosol trajectories from significant eruptions from volcanoes in the tropics and mid-latitudes to determine how long they were present in the atmosphere. Volcano type is very important when looking at this kind of data. Stratovolcanoes will be studied due to their large eruptions that project ash high into the atmosphere and whose eruption sizes will each be measured by the VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index) which ranges from 1-7. Such volcanoes are Mount St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Pinatubo and Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland. Data from eruptions as far back as 1948 can be found through global reanalysis data on HYSPLIT model runs. Global temperatures from the time of the eruption and two years after are studied to determine whether the eruption had any effect on global temperature change. Atmospheric conditions from the time of the eruption will need to be taken into consideration in determining whether global cooling was the direct result of the eruption or if other significant weather patterns were occurring. Do volcanic eruptions from the tropics have a greater influence on global temperature due to the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone and the Hadley Cell, or do volcanic eruptions in the mid-latitudes have the same, or greater, effect on global temperature change?