Research Spotlight: New evidence could let supereruption off the hook



[1] It's a case of forensic analysis on the grandest scale: the possible near-extinction of the entire human race at the hands of one volcanic supereruption. The Younger Toba Tuff (YTT) eruption 74,000 years ago has been accused of blanketing the sky with sulfate aerosols and driving the world into a long-lasting winter. In a new study,Timmreck et al. have given the Sumatran volcano a climatological alibi. The authors used a global circulation model to simulate the YTT eruption, including for the first time an analysis of the small-scale interactions between sulfate particles. Sulfate particles in the upper atmosphere strongly reflect incoming solar radiation, which has a cooling effect on the Earth. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL045464, 2010)