Volcanic Eruptions in Iceland and Papua New Guinea

August 29th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Threatening earthquake activity for many days finally culminated in an eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland early this morning.

Bardarbunga volcano webcam screenshot at 7:33 am August 29, 2014.

Bardarbunga volcano webcam screenshot at 7:33 am August 29, 2014.

The eruption seems to be mainly lava at the surface, but a larger explosive ash eruption is still possible, which is what would be required to have any effect on global climate.

A more spectacular eruption occurred in Papua New Guinea about the same time. Tavurvur volcano erupted with an ash cloud reaching to 60,000 ft. altitude, a beautiful photo of which was taken by Joyce Lessimanuaja and tweeted by Shelley Hendel (@shelleyjlh):

Eruption of Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea on the morning of 29 August 2014.

Eruption of Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea on the morning of 29 August 2014.

This eruption barely showed up on NASA MODIS imagery this morning, so I doubt it will result in any climate effects, either.

There is also some pretty awesome video of the Tavurvur eruption, which was very fiery:

11 Responses to “Volcanic Eruptions in Iceland and Papua New Guinea”

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  1. In response to a question from someone who asked why these eruptions are being allowed (since EPA now regulates volcanic emissions): Yes, that’s true, but only in the U.S., which is why we haven’t had any U.S. eruptions since Mt. St. Helens in 1980.

  2. I expect volcanic activity will be picking up as this decade proceeds in response to prolonged minimum solar conditions. That is what the data suggest which I will send in my next post.

  3. It strikes me how often data is just cast aside.

    • Alan Poirier says:

      The correlation is remarkable. It’s the mechanism that is not well understood. I suspect it may have something to do with electromagnetic currents within the earth’s crust being affected by changes in the Sun’s own fields which, in turn, are likely affected by the Jovian planets’ orbits. Interesting speculation to be sure. Here is a link to a nice graph showing the correlation between low solar activity and volcanoes.
      If the correlation holds during the coming solar minimum, we are in for some rough, cold years.

  4. Yes the correlation is there as it is with so many other solar/climate connections. I know the problem is the mechanism behind each correlation but that could be due to the fact that our science is not advanced enough to understand the exact mechanism rather then there being an absence of a mechanism.

    I further find it hard to believe with all the various solar climate correlations from low sunspot numbers correlated to lower global temperatures to an increase in cosmic rays /more clouds to a more meridional atmospheric circulation to lower solar irradiance lower sea surface temperatures etc. that all of this is going to be shown to be just one big coincidence going forward.

    • Alan Poirier says:

      Totally agree. In fact, I would argue that thinking of the earth as some sort of closed system is non-scientific. We are one planet in orbit around the sun which is itself one of billions orbiting a galactic centre. Our galaxy is part of super cluster, etc. etc. There is so much we do not know.

  5. Tim Wells says:

    I wonder if there is any correlation between volcanic eruptions and the 4 blood red moons. I know the last time we had a major volcano eruption in Iceland the Thames froze over and we went through a period of global cooling.

  6. Doug says:

    Next thing we’ll be blaming global warming on volcanoes. After all, it seems the Sun can’t do it …

    The emissivity of asphalt pavement has been measured as 0.93. If the whole Earth’s surface were covered in such I suggest Earth would be a hotter place. How hot? Well the solar radiation reaching the surface has a mean of 161W/m^2. Bung those figures into your trusty on line Stefan-Boltzmann calculator (easily found courtesy Google) and … wait for it … you get 235.066K.

    Explain please Roy or anyone who hasn’t read the explanation in my book.

  7. RoHa says:

    Teeny question.

    Why are you and others writing “Bardabunga” rather than “Barthabunga”? The Icelandic letter used in the name is pronounced like the voiced “th” in “the”. If using the “Barthabunga” spelling leads some people to say it with an unvoiced “th”, it will be wrong, but so is saying it with a “d”. And the rest will get it right.

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