Hundred's of thousands in danger of volcano eruption

Mount Agung in Bali could possibly erupt putting hundred's of thousands in danger. (Riley Fannon:MGN Online)

A recent increase in seismic activity near Mount Agung in Indonesia is raising concerns over a possible eruption in the near future. Experts in the region have indicated the volcano is shifting into the magmatic phase making a large eruption more likely. Due to this shift in state, authorities raised the warning level to the maximum of 4 early Monday morning.

Officials are calling for an evacuation of one hundred thousand people in the area and have placed an exclusion zone extending an 8 to 10 km radius around the volcano. The governor of Bali is urging the island’s hotels to allow stranded tourists to stay free of charge and is considering forceful evacuations of roughly 150,000 people in the surrounding area.

The volcano has been releasing ash with increasing intensity since last Tuesday and so far 445 flights have been cancelled stranding roughly 59,000 tourists on the island.

Bali is the top tourist stop in Indonesia with its popular beaches and lush greenery it attracts roughly 5 million visitors each year.

This same volcano last erupted in 1963 and that event lasted for about a year killing over 1,000 people. Since that event Indonesian officials have been monitoring the volcano in preparation for the next eruption.

When large eruptions occur, like the one Mount Agung could produce, they can have an impact on the short term weather near the volcano as well as having long term impacts on the global climate. For instance, when eruptions spew ash and sulfur dioxide they can have a cooling effect because these substances can reflect sunlight away from Earth. Other eruptions, that produce more carbon dioxide, can cause warming thanks to the additional greenhouse gasses.

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted to the extent that an approximate 10% reduction of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface was recorded. This led to a decrease in global temperatures over the following years by roughly 0.4 degrees Celsius. The debris cloud from the eruption extended into the Stratosphere, eleven miles up into the atmosphere, lasting 3 years and it was thought to have played a part in the 1993 Storm of the Century.

Volcano researchers tend to have a rule of thumb for these instances. The cooling experienced by an individual volcano will impact for the period immediately after the eruption but a warming impact will last much longer.

For more information on the recent activity at Mount Agung follow the links below.

Link to BBC

Link to CNN

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