Will the Iceland Volcano Impact Global Warming?

Global warming & the erupting volcano in Iceland could be related — but not in the ways that you might first think.

Will its ash cloud cool the planet? So far at least, the cloud’s probably not big enough or high enough to make an impact.

According to Reuters, a 2008 report predicted global warming might actually trigger eruptions like this one by shifting geological stresses:

That report said that about 10 percent of Iceland’s biggest ice cap, Vatnajokull, has melted since 1890 and the land nearby was rising about 25 millimetres (0.98 inch) a year, bringing shifts in geological stresses.

They estimated that the thaw had led to the formation of 1.4 cubic km (0.3 cubic mile) of magma deep below ground over the past century.

Finally, a hard one to wrap your head around: Despite spewing an estimated 150,000 tons of carbon pollution a day into the atmosphere, the volcano may actually result in a net reduction of carbon pollution. Why? Because of all the flights the volcano is grounding in Europe. Those flights actually would have a bigger carbon footprint than the volcano.

Here’s a graphic from InformationIsBeautiful.net that makes it easier to understand:

Got any other questions about how the volcano might impact our environment? Leave them in comments & we’ll try to get you an answer.

Photo via Flickr’s Sverrir Thor