HILO, Hi - On Thursday, Kilauea erupted and sent an ash column 30,000 feet into the air. That's just under cruising altitude for most airliners. While that is impressive, it likely is not enough to cause any global cooling episode in years to come.
In order to impact the earth's climate, the ash column would have needed to extend into the stratosphere. According to climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, the stratosphere is roughly 46,000 feet above ground level.
Why would it have to reach the stratosphere? This is where aerosols released during the eruption can float and reflect incoming solar radiation. That would, in turn, lead to cooler temperatures on Earth. We saw this happen in the early 1980s, after Mount St. Helens sent an ash column nearly 80,000 feet into the atmosphere.
Still, this eruption is impressive. We can see it unfold on infrared satellite imagery. The orange blob near Hilo is the cloud sent up 30,000 feet into the sky. The cloud, at that height, is in a very cool region. Infrared satellite detects things based on color. So, the cooler the cloud, the brighter it appears on IR.
We also can see the ash fall on cameras, provided by the USGS Volcanoes website.
Ashfall Advisories continue for parts of the Big Island, in the wake of Thursday's explosive eruption.
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