I've been reading about volcanic eruptions on wikipedia, and I've found that very big eruptions cause the earth's temperature to drop by a small fraction of a degrees Celsius due to the ash it releases which blocks the sunlight from heating the earth (particularly the 1991 Pinatubo eruption that caused global cooling by 0.5 Celsius).

Does this mean if we trigger massive eruptions around the globe, will we be able to combat global warming?


1 Answer 1


The subject you are looking for is called climate engineering. In general, changing atmospheric composition in order to achieve a cooling effect that counteracts climate change is conceivable.

Whether triggering volcanic eruptions is the most feasible approach (or possible at all) is of course a completely different issue. From my understanding of volcanoes, you would really need massive eruptions with large plume-heights to achieve long-term impact.

Also note that we would need to sustain the resulting atmospheric change over a long time. And the side effects of releasing large amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere need to be considered too.

For some more aspects read this answer to a related question.

  • $\begingroup$ And if we keep adding CO2 we will need more frequent eruptions to counteract the warming. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2017 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ And please keep in mind that volcanic eruptions release CO2 in addition to ashes, and ashes settle in a few years but CO2 remains. Therefore, volcanic eruptions are more likely to contribute to global warming in the long run. $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Dec 31, 2017 at 0:59

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