Scientists, who were taking ice core samples in Antarctica, have discovered an eruption that occurred exactly two hundred years ago, which until now, was undocumented. A time machine? A worm hole? How did these guys know something that happened so long ago? Ice. Lately, all my blogs have been about how using something as simple as water or ice, scientists are able to make some pretty amazing discoveries and predictions. Researchers from South Dakota State University and some of their fellow scientists from elsewhere in America and in France, have found some evidence of a previously undocumented large volcanic eruption that occurred in 1809. The discovery helps give a reason for the record cold decade from 1810-1819.
In class, we talked about Al Gore was able to get climate information with ice cores. Well, it’s the same process. We use the rule that what is one top is the newest. So we can accurately go back to the years and see how different the atmosphere was during the time of the “extended winter.” Professor Jihong Cole-Dai of SDSU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the lead author in an article published Oct. 25, in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters, said, “We found large amounts of volcanic sulfuric acid in the snow layers of 1809 and 1810 in both Greenland and Antarctica.” We know as geology students that large levels of sulfuric acid is definite evidence of volcanic activity. The scientists were able to pin point the general area in which the volcano probably erupted. Because they found the sulfuric acid in both poles, they concluded that the volcano must have erupted somewhere in the tropics, where the wind currents could have brought it to both places.
Hopefully, the wind currents were the same back then. They don’t say anything about how they determined the wind streams. They also speak of another volcano that erupted in 1816 which caused the “year without a summer.” We learned about this pretty chilly year in that completely over the top video about natural disasters. The scientists did, however, say that in order to impact global climate, rather than local weather, the sulfur gas of a volcanic eruption has to reach up into the stratosphere and once there, can be spread around the globe. This creates a sort of backwards greenhouse effect that blocks sun from getting in to the atmosphere in the first place.