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What are the effects of volcanic activity on the climate?

Several immediate effects which come to mind.

The first is particulate pollution of the atmosphere. When intermediate or felsic volcanoes erupt, they are commonly accompanied by large explosions and the introduction of ash and other debris into the atmosphere. This can block the sun's energy and lead to global cooling (like the 'nuclear winter' scenario of the cold war days). This can last for a long time, and actually lead to a measurable cooling of the climate.

Two other common effects are related to the gasses which accompany many eruptions. One of the most common gasses is carbon dioxide, which is considered a "greenhouse gas" and therefore related to the whole global warming issue. Another common gas is sulfur dioxide, which when combined with water vapor in the atmosphere produces sulfuric acid, and acid rain.


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