:Volcanoes may have cooled the Earth by 0.05°C to 0.12°C since 2000
:Scientists had overlooked the role of aerosols from small eruptions
:The aerosols accumulate between the stratosphere and troposphere
:This layer of the atmosphere is difficult to study as clouds obscure it
:Eruptions through 1990s and 2000s have contributed to warming ‘pause’
:Global temperatures plateaued since 1998 after rapid warming in 1990s
:The findings mean models predicting climate change need to be revised
Small volcanic eruptions over the past 20 years have been protecting the Earth from global warming, according to a new study.
Scientists have confirmed that droplets of sulphur-rich aerosols spewed into the upper atmosphere by volcanoes have been reflecting sunlight away from the Earth.
Until recently it was thought that only particularly large eruptions had any noticeable affect on the climate.
Eruptions of volcanoes like Tavurvur in Papa New Guinea in 2006 had a greater impact on the climate in the past 15 years than had previously been appreciated and may require climate models to be revised
However, the new study has confirmed results from the end of last year that showed these small eruptions can have an accumulative impact on global temperature.
This could have helped decrease the global temperatures by between 0.05°C to 0.12°C over the past 15 years.