Mount Merapi SO2 plume headed for Australia

Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano put a lot of ejecta into the air; ash, CO2, and SO2. Here’s a recent news report showing the eruption:

Tracked by satellite, now the Sulfur Dioxide plume is headed for Australia.

From :

A plume of sulfur dioxide from Indonesia’s deadly Mount Merapi volcano is swirling through the upper atmosphere over western Australia. This 7-day movie from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2 (GOME-2) onboard Europe’s MetOp satellite shows the plume in motion, and it could soon swirl across the entire continent. Sky watchers in Australia should be alert for volcanic sunsets.

Here’s the movie, click the image if it does not animate for you.

Our friends in Western Australia like Jo Nova, David Archibald, the Thompsons, and “Bulldust” might be able to share some sunset photos.

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November 10, 2010 5:25 pm

Any word on the altitude to which this plume reaches?

George E. Smith
November 10, 2010 5:38 pm

Looks about like a high flying aircraft contrail to me; just an optical illusion that it is rising from the ground; it’s actually 300 miles long and coming from the horizon.
They do need to change the EGR valve though; as well as the PCV valve; the CARB people will be all over them for pollution.

Douglas DC
November 10, 2010 5:43 pm

But I understood it wasn’t going to affect the atmosphere!
What was the VE rating btw?
Heard VE-4 which is pretty good….

R. de Haan
November 10, 2010 5:48 pm

Right, now the kids in Australia have the sign of cooling in the sky and the AGW bogus from Al Gore in the class room.

David Smith
November 10, 2010 5:49 pm

At least 55,000 feet.
Check and the links it provides for commentary

R. de Haan
November 10, 2010 5:52 pm
Ed in Portland, OR
November 10, 2010 6:12 pm

You can follow eruptions around the world at this web site:

November 10, 2010 6:16 pm

Let’s see how much cooling in global temp Mt. Merapi eruption might contribute. When Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines exploded in 1991 (dubbed “the biggest volcanic eruption of the century”), it contributed up to about 0.5 C global cooling in the next 2 years up to 1993.

November 10, 2010 6:20 pm

I wonder if they will adjust the temperatures up to account for the lower warming from S02? they do it for everything else.

November 10, 2010 6:24 pm

From my trained eye and looking at the video I’d venture to guess about 20,000-25,000ft possibly higher.

November 10, 2010 6:25 pm

Somebody is gonna pay for this environmental destruction.

Richard C (NZ)
November 10, 2010 6:47 pm

Question for lurking Chemist.
Is there the possibility of acid rain from this?
I know that the NI NZ Mt Ruapehu eruption covered parts of the region with ash that when deposited on cars, made washing the cars a risky business paintwise.

November 10, 2010 6:49 pm

Wiki’s article on the Little Ice Age “kinda” points to volcanic activity as a contributing factor to the cooling. This is important because it tries to make a loose case that agriculture in the middle ages may well have caused global warming.
Though Western Christendom was the main villain in all that prosperity, apparently the whole planet was affected…”kinda”. For balance, wiki also “kinda” points to reforestation after the Black Death as another cooling factor! It’s complex, okay?
The author “kinda” makes his vulcanism case by nominating a few mountains that blew their tops during the cooler centuries. Anyone who hasn’t read this particular wiki is in for a real treat: factoids in the service of mad speculation for a blatant political purpose. Even hardened WUWT readers will be impressed.
What are the chances that the Mount Merapi Plume will soon be the notorious MMP, and will be cited regularly as a major masking factor in the cooling of Oz? If only it had come before Eastern Oz got flooded, in direct disobedience to Tim Flannery and the climate boffins of our BOM!

Bernd Felsche
November 10, 2010 6:50 pm

Probably too far North of Perth for most to notice.
Except perhaps in more rain from heavier cloud formation.
Unseasonal rains at the moment. But not unusual.

November 10, 2010 9:15 pm

This vegetation index map has brown for less than -5 but nothing for greater than 5.
Our “permanent drought” has given us a little more than average rainfall. With the good CO2 levels helped to green it up. Now we get this
I suggest flashing green for the triffid area’s.

November 10, 2010 9:15 pm

Time to recycle the stories about global warming causing volcano eruptions: Ice cap thaw may awaken Icelandic volcanoes

Richard Sharpe
November 10, 2010 10:00 pm

Ed in Portland, OR says on November 10, 2010 at 6:12 pm
Ed G? From P?

Surfer Dave
November 10, 2010 10:01 pm

Yes, are you in Perth? I am, and the rain we had starting Tuesday in SW Oz was a bit unusual. The northwest feed seemed to trigger more rain than I would have expected. Could the SO2 have an impact or effect on the precipitation?
Looking at the general flow in the animation, can we expect the soot and ash clouds to follow a similar path? Perhaps we will get awesome sunsets over the next week or so.

November 11, 2010 12:25 am

In the year following the Krakatoa eruption in 1883, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 °C (2.2 °F). Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888. The eruption injected an unusually large amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas high into the stratosphere which was subsequently transported by high-level winds all over the planet. This led to a global increase in sulfurous acid (H2SO3) concentration in high-level cirrus clouds. The resulting increase in cloud reflectivity (or albedo) would reflect more incoming light from the sun than usual, and cool the entire planet until the suspended sulfur fell to the ground as acid precipitation.[10]

November 11, 2010 12:27 am

Natural cloud seeding, brought to you by the Vulcans.

Geoff Sherrington
November 11, 2010 1:34 am

There are so many boatloads of unscreened people heading from Indo to Australia in leaky boats that they can be seen from satellites too. Maybe they will change ocean circulation patterns if the volume grows much more.
So what is news about a bit of SO2? When our children were at school, we lived a year less than a Km from a quite large sulphide ore smelter, before there were any emission controls except a short chimney. This Mount Morgan mine had been for some years of its life, the largest single gold producer in the world and it provided the fortunes that seeded both British Petroleum and the Walter and Eliza Hall Medical Research Institute, a place of world excellence.
Is that not more interesting news than another rumble from Mt Merapi?

November 11, 2010 2:02 am

Before trying to figure out if the volcanic clouds affect temperatures in Western Australia, it’s worth getting a bit of a baseline by looking at the most recent BoM Monthly Weather Review which summarises September 2010 …
The “drought ravaged” state of Western Australia had its 3rd wettest September ever recorded, the mean daily maximum across WA was the 7th lowest ever recorded for September, the mean daily minimum was average overall “but below average in southwest WA”, and the overall mean temp for WA was 19 C, which was 0.7 C below the long-term average.
Maybe we should ask the Indonesians if we can borrow their volcano for a while so we can warm up.

Ulric Lyons
November 11, 2010 3:33 am

@Tim says:
November 11, 2010 at 12:25 am
“In the year following the Krakatoa eruption in 1883, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 °C (2.2 °F)”
How curious it is to see how warm 1884 was in Europe after such an event.

November 11, 2010 4:28 am

Just wondering how long before the warmists latch onto this event and use it to explain away the present non-AGW.
Of course they will explain in detail how this only ‘defers’ global warming (or whatever it’s called) and that we will still need to cough up billions of dollars in carbon taxes to make the Gores and Warmists of the world richer yet not house, feed or educate those most in need of our support around the world.

R. de Haan
November 11, 2010 4:32 am
November 11, 2010 4:36 am

We’re to busy with the boat people to be worried about a little volcano well may be some are worried as there has been a news black out on this disaster in Australia

November 11, 2010 5:29 am

Ulric Lyons says:
November 11, 2010 at 3:33 am
“How curious it is to see how warm 1884 was in Europe after such an event.”
It would seem that the effect of volcanic activity on climate are not fully understood.
I suspect that geography and the composition of the volcanic emissions determine the scale of any possible effect?

Dave D
November 11, 2010 6:05 am

Is it safe to say that the SO2 plume is safe, from a toxic perspective, having been airborne so long? I would guess they are following those images by tiny variances in IR and that the “richness” of the SO2 concentration has gotten more and more tracelike? Or is it opposite, relatively rich in SO2, but cooled off almost completely?

November 11, 2010 6:16 am

With the SH moving into summer this could be bad news for global climate.

November 11, 2010 8:06 am

Let’s see how much cooling in global temp Mt. Merapi eruption might contribute. When Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines exploded in 1991 (dubbed “the biggest volcanic eruption of the century”), it contributed up to about 0.5 C global cooling in the next 2 years up to 1993.
The word is that Merapi has so far emitted only about 1% of the total SO2 emitted by Pinatubo, and Pinatubo’s plume achieved double the altitude. If that analysis is correct, there will be no observable climatic influence from this eruption.
Although one can always hope…………….

George E. Smith
November 11, 2010 9:48 am

“”””” Richard C (NZ) says:
November 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm
Question for lurking Chemist.
Is there the possibility of acid rain from this?
I know that the NI NZ Mt Ruapehu eruption covered parts of the region with ash that when deposited on cars, made washing the cars a risky business paintwise. “””””
I don’t know about this Merapi chap; but they do say an SO2 Plume; and ash. I would not expect that any acid rain which they would get; would necessarily hurt car paints since it would be quite diluted I expect.
The ash is something else though; it is typically very abrasive, and if you get it on your car along with other crud like mud, then it would be harder to wash off with a hose and if you sued any kind of cloth the sharp grains of the ash would create sleeks in the paint. I have hiked in that volcanic ash layer that surrounds Mt Tarawera on the shores of Lake Tarawera, and that stuff gets in your boots, no matter what, and really tears up your feet.
When I used to go skiing on Mt Ruapehu; we often would climb up the Whakapapa glacier route, and go down into the crater for a swim. The water was BC (C is for cold), but sulphurous fumes would be bubbling up from down in the crater, and forming a thin layer (inch thick) of scalding water on the surface, and that surface layer was like a 10% sulphuric acid solution. You had to swim along with a big splashing motion out in front of you to stir up the surface layer, or else it would singe your eyebrows. I wore woollen swim suits in those days; and they only lasted a season, because the acid would eat holes in them eventually.
I eventually stopped swimming in there after one time when I was sitting on the snow, to warm up in the sun, while I put my ski clothes back on, I happened to jab my ski pole into the snow; and a whacking great chunk of it simply fell away underneath me and I was looking down a bottomless hole in a crevasse.
That was after the big Wangaehu disaster; when the crater ice wall collapsed and sent half the lake down the river and took out the midnight express from Wellington to Auckland.
Skiing on Ruapehu while Ngauruhoe, next door was erupting, was hard on our skis, because the ash simply ground all the base off our skis.
Somewhere I have some little bird figurines made out of Mt St Helens ash; and that stuff is exactly the same as the Tarawera ash layer (which is more than 200 feet deep in some places near the mountain).
Acid rain seems to erode rocks and concrete; but it doesn’t seem to cause any long term problems when it gets down in the rivers and out to sea; and who knows how many billions of years we’ve had to live with acid rain.

November 11, 2010 11:44 am

A number of volcanoes have or are erupting this year, including Iceland, Alaska, Russia, SE Asia and in S America as I recall. Has any work been done to measure the cumulative effects from their eruptions? If so, what are the results and where can it be found?

November 11, 2010 1:23 pm

Did anyone notice the final frame of the animation? It runs from 3-9 Nov, and on Nov 9 only, data for 60N is displayed.
Look closely and you see a band of high SO2 all along 60N.
Look where concentrations are highest – Alaska, over the Davis Strait (off SW Greenland), Sweden, Finland… where there are persistent temperature anomalies.
Aerosol warming, perhaps?

November 11, 2010 3:37 pm

So essentially it takes a lot of force to blow that SO2 high up into the atmospehere for it to be delivered somewhere else.
That’s pretty interessting. That it takes the most powerfull of volcanoes to spew all that acid rain denominator high enough into the atmosphere to actually be able to create acid rain somewhere else.
We must’ve had some pretty god awfull powerfull deisel engines back in the 80´s.

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