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Volcano CO2 Output Could Be 150-300,000 Tons Daily

April 20, 2010

Experts said on Monday that the volcano in Iceland is emitting 150,000 to 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day, a figure comparable to emissions released from a small industrial nation.

The estimation is based on gas composition of an earlier eruption on a volcano adjacent to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. If figures are correct, the CO2 released by this volcano would be “150,000 tons per day,” Colin Macpherson, an Earth scientist at Britain’s University of Durham, said in an email to the AFP news agency.

Patrick Allard of the Paris Institute for Global Physics (IPGP) said the amount could be as high as 300,000 tons per day.

Both experts added that these were only approximate estimates.

On a country-by-country basis, the emissions from the volcano would be placed 47th to 75th in the world table of emitters if based on a yearlong output. The data was compiled by the World Resources Institute (WRI), which tracks environmental and sustainable development.

Being ranked 47th would place it above many other countries including Austria, Belarus, Portugal, Ireland, Finland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. The list compiled is based on 2005 data.

Experts said that the volcano is producing just a tiny amount of global emissions of greenhouse gases. Total emissions in 2005 were more than 36 thousand million tons measured in CO2, according to the WRI index.

Many believe that the eruption is good for climate change as it has grounded carbon-emitting jetliners. But specialists with the European Environment Agency say that emissions from the aviation sector in the 27 nations of the European Union pump out around 440,000 tons per day.

Sources say that not much is saved by the volcanic eruption. Not all airports in Europe are closed, and those that are, passengers are using other transportation methods that pump out CO2. And many flights in, to and from Europe are only being deferred until the crisis is over.

“Whether the emissions occur now or three weeks from now does not change things fundamentally,” Herve Le Treut, a French climatologist, told AFP.

“Another point is that these emissions are of long duration. CO2 is dangerous because it stays in the atmosphere for about a hundred years. Its short-term effect is not the big problem.”

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