Impact of climate change on volcanic processes: current understanding and future challenges

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Thomas Jacques Aubry, Jamie Ian Farquharson , Colin Rowell, Sebastian Watt, Virginie Pinel, Frances Beckett, John Fasullo, Peter Hopcroft, David Pyle, Anja Schmidt, John Staunton Sykes


The impacts of volcanic eruptions on climate are increasingly well understood, but the mirror question of how climate changes affect volcanic systems and processes, which we term “climate-volcano impacts”, remains understudied. Accelerating research on this topic is critical in view of rapid climate change driven by anthropogenic activities. Over the last two decades, we have improved our understanding of how mass distribution on the Earth’s surface, in particular changes in ice and water distribution linked to glacial cycles, affects mantle melting, crustal magmatic processing and eruption rates. New hypotheses on the impacts of climate change on eruption processes have also emerged, including how eruption style and volcanic plume rise are affected by changing surface and atmospheric conditions, and how volcanic sulfate aerosol lifecycle, radiative forcing and climate impacts are modulated by background climate conditions. Future improvements in past climate reconstructions and current climate observations, volcanic eruption records and volcano monitoring, and numerical models will contribute to boost research on climate-volcano impacts. Important mechanisms remain to be explored, such as how changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation will affect the volcanic ash lifecycle. Fostering a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to climate-volcano impacts is critical to gain a full picture of how ongoing climate changes may affect the environmental and societal impacts of volcanic activity.



Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Volcanoes; climate change; external forcing; feedbacks


Published: 2021-10-07 18:05


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
The authors declare no competing interests.

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