By Ellie Kreidie
An SOS Alert was sent out earlier this week to neighbors around Mount Agung in Bali, as the volcano was due to erupt. Officials raised the alert to the highest level on Monday, after fears of a major eruption were mounting. The eruption of the volcano began the week before, but it wasn’t until this week that the largest impact of the eruption was in full effect. People could see dark ash from the Mount Agung as high as 5.5 miles in the sky. Explosions of the volcano were also heard up to 7 miles away.
The local airport has been closed since Monday, due to the eruption, which has forced, according to BBC reporting, up to 100,000 people to evacuate, including thousands of tourists. According to government officials, the airport has since been working to reopen, but they would need to close it again if the wind from the volcano were to change directions. “I can’t imagine what the people of Indonesia are feeling, having the knowledge that this same volcano has erupted in the past killing more than 1,000 people must be terrifying especially when you can’t leave due to the volcanic ash steam in the sky.” Sophia Aburmeileh (‘21). Scientists expect the effects of the explosion, including lava, ash, sulfur and carbon dioxide emissions could remain for weeks. Government authorities hope to reopen the airport as soon as possible, to ensure the hundreds of thousands of people forced to evacuate will be protected. Sage Johnson (C’18) commented, “Bali is a very interesting country. The dynamic between its volcanoes and their governmental response as well as foreign aid contributes to a unique arrangement.”
Beyond the effects on the Bali region the volcano eruption has, there is also the possibility that the explosion at Mount Agung could temporarily cool the entire planet. According to NASA climate scientist Chris Colose, in an email to Vox, volcanic eruptions can nudge the temperature of the planet as millions of tons of gases and particles are floated to the atmosphere. “Most eruptions do not have a meaningful climate impact, and so the risks associated with the eruption are limited to the nearby population,” he wrote in an email. “For climate, the big thing to pay attention isn’t the ash but the sulfur emissions.”
Image courtesy of CNN