Large volcanic eruptions can temporarily cool Earth's climate and, a team of scientists now suggests, lower sea level worldwide.
The tiny particles of broken rock and droplets of condensed gases that a volcano ejects high into the atmosphere reflect sunlight into space. So, after an eruption, there's less radiation reaching Earth's surface to warm it, says John A. Church, an oceanographer at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Hobart, Tasmania. In the wake of a major eruption, this deflection of solar energy can cause global air temperatures to drop below average for months.