A recent study published on Monday in Nature Geoscience reveals that volcanic eruptions affect the world’s biggest rivers.
Until now, scientists studied the effects those volcanic eruptions have on climate changes, but now they also discovered the effects upon the world’s largest rivers.
The study was made by the researchers from the University of Edinburgh. They came to the conclusion that volcanic eruptions can modify the flowing of some rivers which represent the main water source for millions of people.
In a press release, the scientists explain what exactly happens: after a volcanic eruption, the ash is thrown into the atmosphere and can remain there even for several years, thus obstructing the sunlight. As a consequence, the atmosphere becomes cool, thing which leads to less rain and, so, to smaller rivers.
“It was known that volcanic eruptions affect global rainfall, but it was previously unclear to what extent this translated into changes in river flow,” declared Dr. Carley Iles, one of the study’s researchers.
The study is based on an analysis of 50 worldwide rivers and their annual flow and used some computer programs in order to establish the changes that occurred after big eruptions in 1963 in Indonesia, 1982 in Mexico and 1991 in Philippines.
Depending on the regions, they found out different results. In tropical areas, eruptions were succeeded by a change in the river streams that would last for one or two years. In drier areas, on the other hand, the water flow increased.
This is not a problem to be ignored, as rivers represent the main water source for millions of people. More precisely, about 20 million people hinge upon the Amazon River and even more on the Nile.
Researchers concluded their study by saying that soon-to-come volcanic eruptions may affect water’s potability, so this issue is of major importance in our century.
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