Thursday, 15 April 2010

Inverted facts

Seen in the UK Torygraph regarding disruption to flights caused by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland while referring to the Laki event of 1783;
"The amount of gas produced was enough to cause increase temperatures for a whole summer."
Apart from being shocking grammar for such a publication it's also the exact opposite of what happened. The Laki event caused lower regional temperatures, the Sulphur Dioxide and other volcanic emissions resulting in the death of crops and livestock. I swear that the Wikipedia entry has been doctored since I last checked it out. This article from NASA reports up to a three degrees Celsius cooling due to particulate matter blocking solar radiation.
The Laki event had such a significant impact on the climate because it released large amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. When combined with water vapor, the gas formed into tiny particles called aerosols that reduced incoming solar radiation, cooling the average temperature over Northern Hemisphere land masses by as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer of 1783, as simulated with the computer model. Tree ring data also showed significantly reduced tree growth in the summer of 1783, indicative of the coolest summer of the last 400 years in northwestern Alaska, while tree growth in parts of Siberia was the least in 500-600 years.

Increase my arse! The only increase is in the levels of article doctoring and outright bullshit. Orwell would be shaking his head in amazement.

Update: It might be a good idea to get livestock and pets indoors and wear acid resistant headgear, as the stink of Sulphur has reportedly reached Bergen in Norway. I'm assuming that the same stink will soon head south. Sulphur Dioxide + rain = Acid rain. Concentrated acid rain is not a good thing whichever way you measure the world.

In addition, some scientific papers have cited a 'hotter' summer in 1783, yet the Eruption of June 8th would have not impacted on the regional weather immediately. Yet the Winter of 1783-4 was renowned as a bad one. This does not bode well. I wouldn't be banking on too many barbecue days this Summer in Europe if the eruption continues. Over here we're discussing installing a second wood burning stove and looking at cutting another two trees for the woodpile. Just in case.

Update on the update: Have just been going through various historical reports of the 1783 eruption and hope like hell this years volcanic belch won't result / hasn't resulted in serious hydrogen fluoride emissions like in the 18th century. That means Hydrofluoric acid rain, a damn sight nastier than Sulphuric acid rain. So treat your wet weather gear with that Teflon based stuff.

In the meantime, my family back in Britain are being cautioned to ensure the freezer is full, and that there are a few extra cans on the shelf ,just in case. A lot of Britain's food is flown in, and stocks of food are generally delivered on a 'just in time' basis. There may be a risk of shortages if the 'no fly' rule continues for longer than three days, and Britain is far from self sufficient in food production.

If I'm overstating my case, all they'll have is a full freezer, slightly overstocked larder and perhaps some better waterproofed outdoor gear. No doubt my family will tell me off for being foolish. Or more foolish than usual. If I'm right, I don't really want to think about it. Today, and for the duration of the eruption, I want to be wrong.

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