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Volcanoes and Climate

Classroom/Laboratory Activity

A classroom activity that teaches students about the different atmospheric aerosols and gases released during volcanic eruptions and how they can affect climate.

Students will analyse the data of emissions of water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide(SO2) from volcanic eruptions. They will learn that water vapour and carbon dioxide being greenhouse gases, contribute directly towards warming of the Earth’s surface. Students will learn that sulphur dioxide, on the other hand, has an indirect effect on climate by forming sulfate aerosols that directly absorb or reflect light energy or indirectly, through cloud formation, cause heating and cooling on the Earth’s surface.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What kind of atmospheric aerosols are emitted during volcanic eruptions?
  2. Explain how atmospheric aerosols can have a cooling or warming effect on the planet?
About Tool
Tool Name Volcanoes and Global Warming
Discipline Environmental Sciences, Chemistry
Topic(s) in Discipline Environmental Chemistry, Pollution, Greenhouse Gases, Atmosphere, Volcanic Emissions, Sulphur Dioxide, Aerosols, Sources of Aerosols, Role of Aerosols in Cloud Formation, Sulphate Aerosols 
Climate Topic Climate and the Atmosphere, The Greenhouse Gas Effect
Type of tool Classroom/Laboratory Activity 
Grade Level High school, Undergraduate
Location Global
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by Purdue University
Hosted at Purdue University
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic


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