AT THE end of the last ice age, around 11,700 years ago, Earth’s climate began warming rapidly. As the planet heated up, its vast glaciers fell back. Almost immediately afterwards (in geological terms, at least) volcanic activity surged. That was nothing new. The geological record has plenty of evidence of big glacial retreats that are followed by more frequent volcanic eruptions. Glaciers, in other words, seem to suppress volcanoes, which, by the same token, flourish in their absence.
This, at least, is the case for really big climatic swings. What has been less clear is whether more modest changes in ice cover might also affect the rate of eruptions. Given that humans are busy warming the planet, and therefore shrinking the few, relatively puny glaciers that still exist, this question matters. It would be good to know if more volcanic eruptions might be another consequence of global warming. In a paper just published in <em…Continue reading