“As I have said so many times, God doesn’t play dice with the world.” — Einstein.
Since our last topic auto closed, this is provided as an interim post to keep the comments open for your use. Sorry if it seems a bit sparse. (GL)
As some of you know, I am a fan of Nicholas Taleb. He is the author of “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” (2007). Mostly in jest, I have occasionally kicked around the idea of a ‘Black Swan Volcano,’ mainly from the point of view that in order to really ruin your day (on a humanity scale), it’s going to take more than a simple decline in solar activity to mess things up. All of the previous wild excursions in temperature, though they generally coincide with low solar activity, are punctuated by some sort of volcanic activity. The current decline in solar activity has been called out as very similar to the start of the Dalton minima and naturally, those that tend to do so, have been off beating on that drum. One can only guess at the level of noise that we would get if it were a Maunder Minimum scale event. Some solar physicists, such as Dr. Leif Svalgaard, think that the tally of sunspot activity is flawed and that the levels that denote “Grand Minima” or “Grand Maxima” are a bit skewed due to the criteria and methods that the official observers used when making the tallies. Even I.G. Usoskin (University of Oulu, Finland) has joined in on Dr. Svalgaard’s working groups that are trying to resolve those inaccuracies in order to get a research quality count. Usoskin is the primary author of “Grand minima and maxima of solar activity: New observational constraints” Usoskin et al (2007)
Okay, that’s a bit of background. You will likely get into a heated argument should you adopt the Grand Minima banner and start waving it about in peoples faces.
So, onward to that pet idea I’ve been kicking around. Unfortunate Coincidental Volcanoes popping up as ruiniers to an ordinarily pleasant climate. By Taleb’s definition of BlackSwans, you don’t see it coming. It’s buried in the statistical improbability and even if some wild arsed loon saw it coming, no one would believe them. The Stats would indicate otherwise.
Last Year, Kelud exploded, and did so in style. My initial interpretation of the VAAC reports were that it didn’t make it to the tropopause. It’s a safe assumption on my part since VAAC’s are mainly interested in keeping aircraft away from the plumes. They would most likely tend to over alert. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that someone posted a satellite view of the plume along with a LIDAR trace that showed that Kelud had easily made it to the stratosphere… that LIDAR trace even seemed to show that part of it reached as high as 30 km.
No matter how you look at it, that is way up there. Okay, so maybe Kelud is in the running for the mythical Black Swan status. It really depends on how much SO2 was lofted. I don’t have a really good way to estimate that, but I can show you a few other volcanoes and let you determine what could be coming done the pike.
Nasa keeps track of the stratospheric aerosol layer for their climate models. (the veracity of those models is left up to the reader). You can find ascii text data for the volcanic forcing of those models here. Taking that, and an output of VEI 4+ eruptions, you can get a view of some of the culprits.
As you can see, the monster eruptions tend to have the most effect. But, notice how puny Novarupta is compared to Pinatubo and Krakatau. This is going to be due to where it erupted and what it erupted. At a higher latitude, Novarupta had easier access to the stratosphere, and all tropical systems tend to have a higher level of water vapor entrained into the column. (causes early leaching of SO2) This should work to Novarupta’s advantage. Yet it didn’t. Sulfur is the 16th most abundant element in Earth’s crust, being more prevalent than Chlorine (usually found in salt NaCl). As far as I know, how much sulfur was in Kelud’s column has yet to be published. But sulfur collecting is a pretty common way to augment income in some locales.