Volcanoes continue to prove their significant impact on most aspects of nature, and now it was found that major river flows will be disturbed by volcanic eruptions in the future, as well as they have been in the past. According to a research conducted at the University of Edinburgh, one eye should be on the sky and the other beneath the earth at a constant.
Scientists Carley Iles and Gabriele Hegerl, have taken a number of 50 rivers and compared their annual flow after several volcanic eruptions along the years. This ranged from the Krakatoa in 1883 to the Pinatubo in 1991. They assessed how rivers were impacted, as it has been previously found that eruptions affected rainfall.
According to their findings, major rivers, such as the Amazon, Nile, and Congo have seen a 10% decrease in their water volume after the volcanoes erupted.
With millions of tons of debris hoisted up into the air, they slithered to the atmosphere and partially blocked the sun. While this meant less evaporation, it also implied that the colder temperatures essentially diminished the atmosphere’s ability to retain water.
The particles emanated from volcanoes spread out and reflected back the sunlight. This phenomenon could continue and it might affect populated areas.
According to Iles, it was clear that eruptions affected rainfalls, but it was not certain before how they can affect river flow. The researchers analyzed data for the next one or two years following a volcanic event. It was observed that this consequence was more frequent in certain tropical regions or northern Asia.
Rivers like the Amazon, Congo, Nile, Ob, Yenisey, Kolyma, and Orange were among those affected. However, the scientists did not offer specific numbers as to how low the waters dropped. The estimated 10% for several of them were based on rough calculations.
On the other hand, sub-tropical regions actual saw an increase in flow of rivers, such as areas in the southwestern of the United States and southern South America.
The study comes in response to the geo-engineering plans of artificially lowering the growing temperatures on our planet. There are certain supporters of “radiation management” projects. They imply sending massive amounts of compounds similar to sulfate aerosols, in order to achieve the same results as volcanic eruptions.
In essence, some scientists propose for those particles to reflect back the sunlight by creating a ‘sunscreen-like’ layer in our atmosphere.
As stated by Iles, their study should heed caution. These geo-engineering plans might have consequences on river flows.
In the meantime, however, their findings might help predict future problems in several bodies of water after volcanic eruptions. The information could be vital for nearby affected populations, who will be given a warning ahead of time.
Image source: cas.usf.edu