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Toba Supervolcano May Erode the Ozone Layer

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Anak Krakatau, near what is now Lake Toba, erupted in 2018.

Anak Krakatau, near what is now Lake Toba, erupted in 2018.
Photo: FERDI AWED / AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

The superheroosis of Toba about 74,000 years ago has intrigued scientists since time immemorial, which remain uncertain about how u event affected humans living in the era. Now, a team of researchers suggests that the real damage from Toba came from above, in the form of an depleted ozone layer induced by a massive release of sulfur dioxide.

The research, published in the journal Nature Communications Earth & Environment, he explores how the gas released by the eruption in Indonesia is filtered all over the planet, particularly by spewing holes in the ozone layer above the Earth’s tropics. An ancient theory of the Toba eruption is that the eruption and a subsequent volcanic eruption have made life hard for humanity and have also created a bottleneck of population in our species, slowing population growth and perhaps settling some human migration out of Africa. No longer recent work showed that some humans continued to live as usual in South Africa after the eruption, and stone tools dated to almost every side of the eruption have been found in Africa and India. Obviously, human species have survived this cataclysm, but if it has significantly reduced our number then an open question remains.

“Toba has long been touted as a cause of bottlenecks, but initial investigations into climate variables of temperature and precipitation have not provided concrete evidence of a devastating effect on humanity,” Sergey said. Osipov, atmospheric chemist at the Max Chimk Institute for Chemistry and lead author of the new study, in the press release. In their recent paper, Osipov’s team argues that the impacts of supervolcano eruptions could be measured in the ultraviolet radiation that terrestrials were exposed to when a hole was exposed in ozone, rather than in the cooling effects of a “volcanic winter” that have long been suggested.

A crater lake now stands where the supervolcano erupted more than 70,000 years ago.

A crater lake now stands where the supervolcano erupted more than 70,000 years ago.
Image: NASA Landsat

Volcanic eruptions have much broader implications for their sputum lava and overheated pyroclastic flows. Their plumes of smoke can shoot tens of thousands of feet and be picked up by the Earth’s winds, bringing ash and gas into the world. Our atmosphere has been clouded by volcanic debris many times: Recently there was Mt. Pinatubo’s climatological interruption in 1991; in the relatively less recent past there was the Okmok explosion of 43 BC, which may have troubled people as far as Rome. But these huge eruptions are put to shame by Toba, who instantly released 2,000 megatons of sulfur dioxide – 100 times the amount put by Pinatubo – into the atmosphere. The research team suggests that this gas may have messed with the Earth’s oxygen shield, making organisms on Earth more vulnerable to radiation from space.

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“The ozone layer prevents high levels of harmful UV radiation from reaching the surface,” Osipov said. “To generate ozone from the oxygen in the atmosphere, photons are needed to break the O2 bond. When a volcano releases a large amount of sulfur dioxide, the resulting volcanic plume absorbs UV radiation but blocks sunlight. This limits the formation of ozone, creating an ozone layer and increasing the chances of UV stress. “

The 1991 Pinatubo eruption.

The 1991 Pinatubo eruption.
Photo: ARLAN NAEG / AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

Using a climate model developed by NASA, the research team calculated how the eruption may have influenced global climate cycles and, based on the amount of sulfur dioxide that may have been released by the supervolcanic eruption, how the ozone layer may have been influenced. They ran the model on a supercomputer at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. According to their model, the team estimates that the supervolcano could have halved ozone levels in the world, which would have made life “similar to the consequences of a nuclear war,” according to Osipov. They calculated that the maximum daily UV index would increase by almost 150%, causing crop yields to decline and sunburn. to the eyes and skin from even short exhibitions.

It’s not like we find 74, 000 000 years of human clothing with sunburns evident to support this hypothesis, so these discoveries remain in the realm of educated speculation. But as improved modeling and other forms of evidence emerge, our understanding of this superhero will continue to become clearer.

More: Stone Instruments Suggest The Eruption of the Supervolcano Did Not Decimate Humanity 74,000 Years ago


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