Sunday, June 22, 2008


Living in Hilo, Hawaii we are daily aware of the stunning impact of our active volcano Kilauea. In March, a new vent opened that emits volcanic gases with 10 times more sulfur dioxide than the volcano previously emitted. Vog, consisting of volcanic gases mixed with moisture, now daily impacts the skies of the Big Island and often other Hawaiian islands.

Climatologists and Volcanologists do not consider Vog to be a factor in influencing weather or ocean temperature due to two critical misunderstandings. The first is that Vog supposedly only impacts weather if it reaches the upper atmosphere because it is not stable in the lower atmosphere and rapidly dissipates within hours or at most days. In fact, the Hawaiian Vog is quite stable in the lower atmosphere and lasts many days, even weeks. This is obvious to the people that live in the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii who must deal with Vog that persists for days. And when the winds blow it out of the western part of the Big Island it reaches Maui , Oahu and even Kauai. The degree to which Vog persists became obvious last week when the island of Guam, 3828 miles away from Hawaii, reported persistent Vog from Kilauea blocking their sunlight and ocean views. Guam is further from Hawaii than Washington DC is from London, England. It takes at least nine days for the Vog from the Big Island to reach Guam.

The second misunderstanding is that Vog in the lower atmosphere is not able to effectively block sunlight. On any Voggy day one can easily tell that Vog very effectively blocks sunlight; noon in Kona can look like twilight. Since the Vog started in March, solar energy distributors are reporting that solar panels are producing 50% less power in Kona.

These misunderstandings about Vog published by Climatologists and Volcanologists made us wonder whether Vog can impact ocean temperatures. The images below show a NOAA map of surface temperatures and NASA view of Sulfur Dioxide emissions from Kilauea. The temperatures are Celsius, where orange is warmest and blue the coolest temperatures. The Sulfur Dioxide intensity or mass is greatest when orange in the NASA diagram. A huge mass of SO2 is east of the Big Island of Hawaii and the surface temperatures are cooler in the same location. It looks like the Vog is cooling the surface temperatures.
Vog’s surface temperature cooling interests us because of findings in ice cores published recently by National Geographic. Ice cores show higher levels of acidic sulfate molecules in them in the years 535 to 536. Ancient texts from that time period in Mesoamerica, Europe, and Asia document a cold darkness that withered crops resulting in widespread famine. The sulfate molecules point to volcanic activity, but no major eruption has been identified for that time period.

We wonder if it is possible for massive volcanic gas emissions to occur without being associated with a major eruption, as is occurring today in Hawaii as well as from other recent active volcanoes like
· Llaima and Chaiten in Chile,
· Karymsky and Shiveluch in Russia,
· Ubinas in Peru,
· Arenal in Costa Rica,
· Tungurahua in Ecuador,
· Santa Maria and Fuego and Pacaya in Guatemala,
· Popocatepeti in Mexico,
· Cleveland on Chuginadak Island,
· Anatahan in the Mariana Islands,
· Batu Tara on Kombu Island,
· Kerinci on Sumatra,
· Semeru and Krakatau and Merapi on Java,
· Sakura-Jima Japan,
· Veniaminof in Alaska,
· Lopevi in Vanuatu,
· Rabaul in New Britain.
Etna on Sicily recently covered Athens and other Mediterranean areas in Vog.

Though politically incorrect with the popularity of Global Warming, we wonder if the current global sulfuric emissions could cause a cooling event, such as occurred in 536AD?

As we watch the endless plumes of sulfuric gas pour out of the Kilauea’s vents, we wonder if we are watching something that is merely a local inconvenient irritation or a global cooling event that will effect the future course of human history.


S said...

Interesting post. I've been looking at some Hilo property and thinking the same thing...

Robert F. Giles said...

a filter should be constructed and put over the vent on Kilauea to filter out the cloud of sulfur dioxide gases blocking the sun and causing the cooling of mid pacific waters.warmer waters in the pacific bring better rain to north america.

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