Ocean cooling caused by the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 kept sea level worldwide in check well into the 20th century, a new analysis suggests.
When the Indonesian volcano exploded, it hurled immense amounts of ash and other particles into the stratosphere. For up to 2 years, those aerosols blocked about 1 percent of the sunlight that had previously reached Earth, says Peter J. Gleckler, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore (Calif.) National Laboratory. The resulting decrease in absorbed radiation caused the upper layers of the oceans to cool and contract. Worldwide, sea level dropped.