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Iceland's volcano Katla ready to blow?

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A huge volcano in southern Iceland is belching higher quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere than previously thought, prompting scientists to warn it could be about to erupt.

Should Katla do so, it has the potential to dwarf the impact of the nearby Eyjafjallajokull volcano that blew its top in April 2010, creating an ash cloud that grounded flights across Europe and caused chaos in airports around the world.

Full scare: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/iceland-volcano-latest-katla-eruption-ash-cloud-air-travel-carbon-dioxide-a8551946.html

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Socks Junior

Spinning this into a story about a possible eruption misses the really crazy part of this story.  Putting the abstract here.


"Globally significant CO2 emissions from Katla, a subglacial volcano in Iceland" by Ilyinskaya et al.


Volcanoes are a key natural source of CO2 but global estimates of volcanic CO2 flux are predominantly based on measurements from a fraction of world’s actively degassing volcanoes. We combine high-precision airborne measurements from 2016 and 2017 with atmospheric dispersion modelling to quantify CO2 emissions from Katla, a major subglacial volcanic caldera in Iceland that last erupted 100 years ago but has been undergoing significant unrest in recent decades. Katla’s sustained CO2 flux, 12-24 kt/d, is up to an order of magnitude greater than previous estimates of total CO2 release from Iceland’s natural sources. Katla is one of the largest volcanic sources of CO2 on the planet, contributing up to 4% of global emissions from non-erupting volcanoes. Further measurements on subglacial volcanoes world-wide are urgently required to establish if Katla is exceptional, or if there is a significant previously unrecognized contribution to global CO2 emissions from natural sources.

Boots on the ground data finds that estimations are inadequate.  Given that subaerial volcanoes emit about ~1500 kt/d CO2 (Burton et al., 2013) which is ~2% of the anthropogenic emission rate of ~96,000 kt/d (Friedlingstein et al., 2010), it ain't going to shift that balance too much.  But worthwhile to really get a handle on natural subaerial CO2 sources.


Edited by Socks Junior
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