Pinatubo's Aerial Impact Scientists Assess Volcano's Effect on Weather, Atmospheric Chemistry

By Robert C. Cowen, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 31, 1991 | Go to article overview

Pinatubo's Aerial Impact Scientists Assess Volcano's Effect on Weather, Atmospheric Chemistry


Robert C. Cowen, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


KEEP an eye on the sky this autumn.

Arlin Krueger at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., says that "people can expect ... rosy sunsets" over much of the Northern Hemisphere as the volcanic plume spreads from Mt. Pinatubo's eruption in the Philippines.

But atmospheric scientists such as Dr. Krueger are interested in more than sunsets.

Pinatubo's eruption has given them an unplanned opportunity to study the effect that such a massive stratospheric injection of volcanic material has on weather and atmospheric chemistry.

Krueger has explained it is "possible that the cloud will reflect back into space some of the sunlight that would have reached the ground, resulting in a small change in the heat balance of the Earth." Many scientists will be watching for a possible cooling over the Northern Hemisphere, or even globally, of a few tenths of a degree.

Michael Coffey is a member of a team at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., that is analyzing the cloud's composition. He uses spectroscopic data gathered from an aircraft to identify chemical compounds. By establishing early conditions in the cloud and watching how these change, he and his colleagues hope to learn more about the complex chemistry that converts volcanic gases into climate-driving aerosol particles.

Dr. Coffey also notes that the unexpected eruption "is going to test" the prediction of his NCAR colleague Guy P. Brasseur that these particles will provide reaction sites for chemistry that will enhance destruction of stratospheric ozone.

Until now, the biggest eruption of this century, in terms of material shot to stratospheric heights, was that of El Chichon in Mexico in 1982.

Plume-tracker Lamont Poole, assistant head of the aerosol-research branch at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., estimates that Pinatubo's cloud "certainly is at least in the same class as El Chichs, if not larger."

Not all eruptions have major atmospheric implications. Speaking recently at his agency's regional office in Menlo Park, Calif., United States Geological Survey volcanologist Robert I. Tilling explained the difference, saying:

"Volcanoes are similar in that they all offer channels for molten rock (magma) from deep below to travel to the surface. Volcanoes differ, however, in that the type of rock that forms the magma and the amount of gas in the rock determines whether the material will flow as a heavy molten liquid (as in Hawaii) when it reaches the surface, or whether it will explode from the volcano as ash and other bits of volcanic material."

He added, "Some of this explosive material can travel at high speeds down the sides of a volcano in destructive pyroclastic flows, and other material rises high into the atmosphere and later falls to earth as volcanic ash."

This spring's eruption of Pinatubo and of Mount Unzen in Japan, which involved pyroclastic flows, reflect the relative movement of great pieces (plates) of Earth's crust along the western Pacific rim. Here, an oceanic plate slides beneath the plate carrying the Philippines and Japan. Their interaction generates molten rock that rises and eventually erupts explosively.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Pinatubo's Aerial Impact Scientists Assess Volcano's Effect on Weather, Atmospheric Chemistry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.