Simon Carn Clarifies the Role of Volcanic Eruptions in Climate Change

Effusive Volcanic Flow showing lava traveling down a road.
Flow from an effusive volcanic eruption, courtesy of USGS.

Simon Carn (GMES) was quoted in the article “Why Is a Climate Change Skeptic Headlining Science Conferences?” in the Daily Beast. Carn refutes statements made by retired geophysicist Peter Ward that volcanic eruptions, not greenhouse gasses, are responsible for climate change. Ward made the comments in an address to the Geological Society of America.

Why Is a Climate Change Skeptic Headlining Science Conferences?

The Geological Society of America—the country’s premier research and professional organization for geologists—met in Indianapolis earlier this month.

Amidst the otherwise nerdy, sleepy lectures on volcanoes, rocks, and other natural formations was one from Peter L. Ward, a retired geophysicist, who delivered a talk on how volcanic eruptions—not greenhouse gases—are behind climate change.

That’s odd, since the role of greenhouse gas emissions as the primary cause driving climate change is universally backed by scientists.

“Peter Ward has claimed that ‘all’ volcanic eruptions deplete ozone, including the type we call ‘effusive,’ like the eruption of Kilauea that occurred last summer in Hawaii,” volcanologist Simon Carn, an associate professor [now full professor] at Michigan Tech, told The Daily Beast.

Effusive eruptions, in which lava steadily flows out of a volcano onto the ground, typically inject gases to much lower altitudes than explosive eruptions. That means they’re highly unlikely to deplete ozone. “They don’t produce very much chlorine/bromine, and the emissions do not reach the stratosphere where the ozone layer is located,” Carn explained. “His ideas linking volcanic eruptions to ozone depletion and global warming are completely unsubstantiated.”

Read more at the Daily Beast, by Bahar Gholipour.


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