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  • Ash and lava spew from the Villarrica volcano, as seen from Pucon town in the south of Santiago, March 3, 2015.

    Ash and lava spew from the Villarrica volcano, as seen from Pucon town in the south of Santiago, March 3, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 December 2017

Both the frequency and the intensity of eruptions increase as the ice glaciers covering Earth melt, exerting less pressure on the underlying magma.

Climate change could be behind more frequent and intense volcanic eruptions, according to recent scientific study by a U.S. university, local media reported Friday.

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The correlation between climate change and volcanoes stems from the fact that result of the warming of the plant causes the thick glacial ice to melt which in turn exerts less pressure on the magma under in the Earth's crust. Less pressure on the magma causes more volcanic eruptions according to the study’s authors.

The correlation affects "magma flow and the voids and gaps in the Earth where magma flows to the surface as well as how much magma the crust can actually hold," study lead author Graeme T. Swindles, an associate professor of Earth system dynamics at the University of Leeds, told the Scientific American magazine Thursday.

The study analyzed data on volcanic activity in Iceland  4,500 to 5,500 years ago, a period in which the earth cooled and glaciers grew. The found that there is a correlation between the thickness of the ice glaciers and volcanic eruptions.

The research team found that as the climate cooled and glaciers grew there were significantly fewer eruptions, which were also smaller in magnitude. Meanwhile as the climate warmed and glaciers melted, there were more and bigger eruptions.

"After glaciers are removed the surface pressure decreases, and the magmas more easily propagate to the surface and thus erupt," Swindles explained. They also found that there was a 600-year long lag between climatic changes and the change in eruption frequency.

The researchers further warned that “human-induced climate change is causing rapid melting of ice in many volcanically active regions.” The warming of the planet and melting of the glaciers have been taking place since 1300 and has only been sped up by the human-driven global warming.

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Therefore Swindles speculates that “we’re probably going to see a lot more volcanic activity in areas of the world where glaciers and volcanoes interact,” including the Pacific Northwest and southern South America.

The latest warning about the dramatic effects of climate change comes as the United States administration is taking giant steps backwards on an already late global action to address the problem.

President Donald Trump has previously said that climate change was a myth created by China, while many on his administration say global warming has been exaggerated despite concrete scientific evidence.  

His administration has removed many restrictions on fossil fuels production and has left the Paris agreement on climate change, making it the only country in the world not to be part of it.

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