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The volcanic mirror over Earth.

The volcanic mirror over Earth

Analysis of satellite measurements made after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo has yielded the first unambiguous evidence that volcanic debris makes Earth's atmosphere more reflective to sunlight, which cools the climate.

Scientists have long theorized that sulfur from volcanic eruptions produces small sulfuric acid droplets in the atmosphere that can reflect sunlight back toward space. But satellite measurements since 1976 had not shown clear evidence of that effect until after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in June 1991, one of the largest volcanic blasts of this century In the March 5 Science, Patrick Minnis of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and his colleagues report that instruments aboard the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite detected a 3.8 percent increase in sunlight reflected by Earth's atmosphere in the months following the eruption. That significant boost in reflectivity temporarily reduced Earth's surface temperature by 0.50[degrees] C.
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Title Annotation:sulphuric acid droplets from 1976 Mount Pinatubo eruption reflect sunlight and cool climate
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 13, 1993
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