When we go to school, teachers describe us Iceland as an ice land, close to Europe and then still inhabited, but in which nature had the upper hand being able to give off its energy and beauty among geysers, volcanoes and the aurora borealis. So we grow up keeping in our mind pictures of stunning landscapes, even if sometimes Mother Nature is scary: she doesn’t give beauty but only long seconds of terror with events like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.
The latter are particularly frequent on Icelandic territory that has more than 200 volcanoes and most of them are active. A team of European scientists, including from the Universities of Leeds and Edinburgh and the Met Office, studied the discharge of lava given off in six-months eruption at Bárðarbunga volcano during 2014. Levels of sulphur dioxide gas were up to 120,000 tonnes per day, which can cause acid rain and respiratory problems.
This substance released into air, is the same emitted by man as a result of burning fossil fuels and industrial processes such as smelting. The only difference between the human production and the nature one is that human-made sulphur dioxide production has been falling since 1990, and was recorded at 12,000 tonnes per day in 2010. Those of Mother Nature as a result of a volcanic eruption are three times higher than the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted by all European countries per day.
These figures make insiders and not worried about the problem. Researchers hope that their study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, will aid to understanding of how such eruptions can affect air quality, especially in the UK.