Global warming with a side of volcanoes?

A warming climate could mean volcanic eruptions becoming more frequent. That’s the prediction from scientists at the University of Leeds – they say based upon their observations of Iceland, there […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

A warming climate could mean volcanic eruptions becoming more frequent.

That’s the prediction from scientists at the University of Leeds – they say based upon their observations of Iceland, there is a visible link between shrinking glacier cover and increased activity from volcanoes as a result.

They suggest this happens due to changes in surface pressure, which can alter the stress on the shallow rock chambers where magma builds up underground.

They identified a period of significantly lower volcanic activity between 5,500 and 4,500 years ago.

This period followed around 600 years after a major fall in global temperature, which had caused glacier growth in Iceland to rapidly swell.

The study suggests this time lag could also potentially be expected following the shift to warmer temperatures in modern times.

Dr Graeme Swindles, Professor at the University of Leeds, said: “The human effect on global warming makes it difficult to predict how long the time lag will be but the trends of the past show us more eruptions in Iceland can be expected in the future.

“It is vital to understand how actions today can impact future generations in ways that have not been fully realised, such as more ash clouds over Europe, more particles in the atmosphere and problems for aviation.”