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Are volcanic eruptions, including the heat and ash clouds they produce, considered in climate change calculations?

 

Answer

Ballon-Experiment am Karymsky Vulkan, Kamchatka/Russland

Photo: Thomas Walter, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Yes, climate simulations take into account various processes that influence the Earth’s radiation balance and thus climate change.  These processes mainly include variable amounts of solar radiation, greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.), aerosols (also important for cloud formation), and the impact of dust and sulphur emissions caused by volcanic eruptions. In order to predict future climate change, forecasts for the development of greenhouse gases – particularly the increase in carbon emissions dictated by potential economic developments – are taken into consideration, alongside, for example, possible volcanic eruptions based on statistical distribution patterns.

This question was answered by Dr Klaus Grosfeld, Managing Director of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM (Regional climate change).