NASA says volcanoes, not coal burning is major source of sulfur dioxide in atmosphere

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) aerosols in the atmosphere are due mainly to increasing volcanic activity not from burning coal, according to NASA.  Sulfur dioxide aerosols have a cooling effect and have recently been blamed for “hiding global warming.”

Citation: Vernier, J.-P., et al. (2011), Major influence of tropical volcanic eruptions on the stratospheric aerosol layer during the last decade, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L12807, doi:10.1029/2011GL047563.

The abstract reads:

The variability of stratospheric aerosol loading between 1985 and 2010 is explored with measurements from SAGE II, CALIPSO, GOMOS/ENVISAT, and OSIRIS/Odin space-based instruments. We find that, following the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, stratospheric aerosol levels increased by as much as two orders of magnitude and only reached “background levels” between 1998 and 2002. From 2002 onwards, a systematic increase has been reported by a number of investigators. Recently, the trend, based on ground-based lidar measurements, has been tentatively attributed to an increase of SO2 entering the stratosphere associated with coal burning in Southeast Asia. However, we demonstrate with these satellite measurements that the observed trend is mainly driven by a series of moderate but increasingly intense volcanic eruptions primarily at tropical latitudes. These events injected sulfur directly to altitudes between 18 and 20 km. The resulting aerosol particles are slowly lofted into the middle stratosphere by the Brewer-Dobson circulation and are eventually transported to higher latitudes.

See also:

Volcanoes may have greater influence on climate than previously thought

So now burning coal causes cooling?

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3 comments

  1. DUH!!!!! Well there you have it………………all of this cursing and screaming at COAL and Oil companies………………..how do you like it now??????????????

  2. Good article (as always). When we see TV footage of the plumes of smoke and gas from the volcanos, you have to believe just how much is being pumped into our atmosphere.

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