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April 4th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The rise in global temperatures between 2000 and 2010 has not been as fast as expected due to the effect caused by sulfur dioxide emitted by volcanoes, according to an investigation by the University of Colorado in the United States.
Researcher Ryan Neely said that small amounts of sulfur dioxide emissions from the surface of the Earth eventually rise from 12 to 20 miles into the stratosphere, where chemical reactions cause water particles to reflect sunlight back towards space, cooling the planet in the process.
For example, when Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it released millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, which caused the Earth to cool slightly in subsequent years.
It was previously believed that the increase in sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere was due to increased emissions from India and China. Researchers now believe it could be due to volcanic eruptions.
Scientists stress the importance of paying more attention to small and moderate volcanic eruptions when it comes to understanding global climate change. They say it is clear, however, that these eruptions are not going to counteract the greenhouse effect.
“The volcanic gas emissions go up and down, which helps to cool or warm the planet, while emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity are only increasing,” the University added in a statement.