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1 Dec

Bali Volcano News 1.12.2017

Bali Volcano News

On the Indonesian island of Bali, a volcano called Mount Agung is spewing ash 5.5 miles into the sky, causing flight cancellations and trapping of tourists and locals on the island, even as the potential for a bigger eruption looms.

Authorities reopened Bali’s international airport Thursday after closing it for three days due to fear of ash damage to aircraft engines. The closures stranded close to 60,000 passengers and more than 100,000 people near the volcano were told to evacuate as explosions were heard more than 7 miles away.

Bali Volcano News

Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) warned Monday that the eruptions are increasing and declared the highest alert level for the volcano. An Indonesian government scientist said a larger eruption is possible, but also that the current levels of lava, ash, sulfur, and carbon dioxide emissions could continue for weeks.

Scientists have long understood that volcanic eruptions can nudge the planet’s thermostat for months, as millions of tons of gases and particles spread through the atmosphere.

bali volcano news
Bali Volcano News

How much the needle moves, however, depends on what’s being erupted, according to NASA climate scientist Chris Colose.

“Most eruptions do not have a meaningful climate impact, and so the risks associated with the eruption are limited to the nearby population,” he wrote in an email. “For climate, the big thing to pay attention isn’t the ash but the sulfur emissions.”

Gases like sulfur dioxide spew from volcanic craters during an eruption, hidden among billowing ash. These sulfur compounds react in the sky to form substances that scatter sunlight, thereby cooling the planet.

We don’t know yet whether the ongoing eruption in Bali will pump out enough gas and ash to have a measurable impact on the climate, but we do know that the 1963 eruption of Mount Agung knocked down global temperatures between 0.1 and 0.2 degrees Celsius for a year.

The most recent volcanic eruption that pushed down the planet’s temperature was Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

However, locals are more concerned about the next few days, keeping an uneasy eye on their backyard volcano and wearing surgical masks to ward off the ash. Despite evacuation orders, they are wary of leaving their homes without alternative jobs and housing in place, so if the eruption suddenly gets worse, many will likely remain in harm’s way.

Bali Volcano News

 

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