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Philippine Volcanic Eruption 20 Years Ago Caused Global Oceans To Cool

First Posted: Aug 11, 2016 09:42 PM EDT
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Mt. Pinatubo's volcanic eruption is suggested to be escalating today and will continue to do so in the future according to a lead study author, John Fasullo of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. After more than 20 years, scientists have already figured out that the eruption caused the oceans to cool enough. This briefly depress global sea levels, masking its expected acceleration.

As the Earth heats up, the pace of sea level rise is also expected to quicken. This makes it harder for cities to stay above water. In 1992, scientists have studied the Earth's mean sea level via satellites and watched how it rise at a steady 3mm per year. However, since Mt. Pinatubo's volcanic eruption, no evidence for acceleration has been noted, Gizmodo reported.

Fasullo and his colleagues picked out signals from the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption which occurred on June 15 1991. They discovered that aerosols from the eruption blocked enough sunlight and temporarily cooled the oceans. This caused sea levels to fall by about six millimeters.

The Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption of 1991, the largest eruption of the late 20th century, blew its top less than two years before the modern sea level record-keeping began. Accounting for Mt. Pinatubo, Fasullo and his co-authors believe that sea level rise is already escalating currently and will remain ongoing in the future, CS Monitor reported.

Fasullo said that the most important thing they have discovered about sea level by studying Earth's past is that it is not rising steadily. It starts accelerating dramatically as the ice sheets disintegrate.

Today, scientists already have their first firm evidence that the rate of sea level rise is quickening. However, Fasullo was reluctant to give an estimate on how quickly sea level rise will accelerate. He did not also estimate the volcanic eruption's total damage can cause at the end of the century.

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