Nature does its part to pollute our air, as the Bárðarbunga Iceland volcano released more toxic gas than Europe’s industry, reaching staggering numbers during its six month long eruption. It turned the attention of authorities to caution people to stay indoors in order to avoid the potentially damaging consequences of the infected air.
Between August 2014 and February 2015, the Bárðarbunga saw its most vicious eruption in the past 200 years, according to researcher Anja Schmidt from the University of Leeds. It lifted dangerous amounts of sulphur dioxide into the air, damaging its quality and making it toxic for inhabitants.
It can cause acid rains that melt limestone buildings, harm the livestock, and can affect numerous conditions such as asthma or other respiratory issues, along with adding more problems to climate change.
Bárðarbunga released an estimated of 120,000 tons of sulphur dioxide into the air on average per day, which was around three times more than all the man-made toxic gasses across Europe. According to Schmidt, the volcano emitted even eight times more in the beginning.
For example, industrial processes, including burning fossil fuels and smelting, have seen a fortunate decline in their sulphur dioxide production since the 90s, by reducing them to 12,000 tons per day in 2010.
The volcano eruption has been incredibly dampening on the air quality on northern Europe and the United Kingdom and may see to even worse consequences in the future. Back in 1783, the Laki volcano in Iceland erupted ten times more violent than Bárðarbunga’s recent burst, causing famine and killing livestock, according to John Stevenson from the University of Edinburgh.
The researcher explained that those consequences will hopefully be well avoided in the next 20 years when Bárðarbunga is expected to erupt again, only much worse and with more dire consequences as Ireland approaches the peak of rifting period. It could mean an estimated of 100,000 people dying due to air pollution.
The lava spewed from the natural event was enough to fill five Olympic-sized pools within just 1 minutes, and it could have covered the entire Manhattan area by the time the eruption ended.
It has led to the team of researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Edinburgh to partner up with the U.K. Met Office in order to develop better monitoring services, and building new models to track down the toxic gas.
It will certainly not stop a future violent eruption, but it will improve precautionary measures and potential evacuations of the areas should the upcoming event endanger the lives of the population of Iceland.
Image source: icelandweatherreport.com