Volcanic eruptions can change the planet’s climate. During major eruptions, huge amount of volcanic ash are released into the upper atmosphere which form a veil-like covering preventing sun’s rays and heat from reaching earth. Additionally, volcanic gases like sulphur dioxide has a cooling effect, opposite to that of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
When Mount Tambora erupted in 1815 on the island of Sumbawa in present-day Indonesia, it ejected an estimated 120 million tons of sulphur dioxide 40 kilometers into the sky. The sulfur dioxide turned into a fine aerosol of sulfuric acid, and within weeks, it enveloped much of the earth. The aerosol layer reflected the radiation from the sun back into space, producing a worldwide chilling effect. The following year was one of the coldest in recorded history.
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“Two Men by the Sea” (1817) by Caspar David Friedrich effectively captures the depressing mood following the eruption of Mount Tambora and the catastrophic global weather effects.