Will Volcano Eruption Affect U.S. Weather?

April 14, 2009 07:00 PM

Linda Smith, Top Producer Executive Editor
That's a question we received from one forward thinking farmer following Alaska's Mt. Redoubt eruption. He recalls the effects of Mt. Pinatubo and Krakatoa. "Will ash cause cooler temps for planting and/or early growing season?” he asks. Here are responses from three leading meteorologists:
Allen Motew, QT Information Systems: "Redoubt is just a ‘baby' compared with Pinatubo and Krakatoa. Mt. Pinatubo lowered global temperatures 0.5C and depleted ozone. So keep watching; it is possible if eruptions continue and increase.”
Larry Acker, 3F Forecasts: "Given we are entering our growing season, Mt. Redoubt could affect our weather, especially if it keeps erupting. The sulfur dioxide this dirty volcano has already put into the air may cool the Earth a little more. The real cooling of the climate is due to the sun running cooler than normal due to the lack of sunspots. This will last more than 50 years. We are watching this very closely. Grains should gradually work higher over the next month due to delayed planting.”
Drew Lerner, World Weather, Inc.: "Redoubt will not have a significant impact on U.S. weather during the coming summer unless there is a ‘major' eruption. By major, I am talking about an explosive event that would shoot ash and other particulate matter high into the atmosphere – at least 15 to 20 miles. Its eruption was 12.3 miles. Compare that with Mt. Pinatubo's, which shot matter well over 20miles into the atmosphere. Its effects impacted the entire plane. We will have a cooler summer this year, but that will be unrelated to Redoubt. In general, the summer will be sufficiently moist and cool in many areas at the right times, keeping agricultural production potentials high.”

You can e-mail Linda Smith at lsmith@farmjournal.com.

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