Global warming will cause more volcanic eruptions - scientists

Get ready for more fiery devastation, due to climate change.
Get ready for more fiery devastation, due to climate change. Photo credit: Getty

A new study warns global warming will have a new and devastating effect - more and larger volcanic eruptions.

A historic analysis of glacial melting shows volcanic eruptions tend to increase, as glacial coverage shrinks.

The report, published in Geology, focused on volcanoes in Iceland several millennia ago, during a period when the climate cooled. It found the number of eruptions fell, as ice increased.

Scientists believe the weight of the glaciers increases the pressure on the earth's surface and reduces areas for the molten rock to rise. But as the ice melts, the pressure is reduced, sending magma to the surface in the form of volcanoes.

"It can affect 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 author Graeme Swindles told Scientific American.

"After glaciers are removed, the surface pressure decreases, and the magmas more easily propagate to the surface and thus erupt."

Mr Swindles fears that modern-day global warming will lead to a similar effect over the next few hundred years.

"I think we can predict we're probably going to see a lot more volcanic activity in areas of the world where glaciers and volcanoes interact," he says.