New study gives scientists insight into how big volcanic eruptions impact rainfall and affect water flow in regional rivers.
A new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience reveals that strong volcanic eruptions have an impact either positively or negatively on the availability of water across major rivers in the world.
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For the latest study, scientists used computer models to predict how given eruptions affected water flow in nearby or regional waters, and they also analyzed the records of water availability in about 50 world rivers following incidents of major volcanic activity.
Strong volcanic eruptions tend to spew aerosol particles, dust, ash, and gas into the air – and these could become so thick as to block out sunlight in certain regions – affecting atmospheric conditions and precipitations. This could reduce rainfall given certain circumstances, thereby reducing water flow in affected rivers.
The researchers studied several major volcanic eruptions, starting from the Krakatoa of 1883 to Pinatubo in 1991. The dates of these natural occurrences and the rate of rainfall during these periods indicate that water availability in nearby rivers are affected by volcanic eruptions.
Researchers are already aware that large volcanic eruptions trigger weaker rainfall that impact water levels in many rivers, but they intended to understand – using the study as a veritable tool, how water availability might be affected by future eruptions.
Ultimately, the researchers discovered that nearly one or two years after big volcanic eruptions, the flow of water in the tropic and in northern Asia was affected, and this was proven true for the Amazon River, the Congo River, and the Nile River.
But then, the same volcanic activity that caused water reduction in certain rivers triggered increase of water flow in sub-tropical regions because of the atmospheric condition that had become disrupted. To this end, waters in the southwest United States and sections of South American experienced a rise.
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This study is crucial in that it helps scientists to understand the impact of volcanic eruptions on rainfall and water flow, with better insights on weather patterns and crop yields in agriculture.