Mount Ruang Eruption: Impacts on Weather and Climate

TAGULANDANG, Indonesia – Last week, the remote Indonesian volcano Mount Ruang unleashed a series of explosive eruptions, captivating the world with fiery orange lava, towering ash columns, and volcanic lightning. But beyond the awe-inspiring spectacle, what are the implications for weather and climate?

The Eruption Details

Mount Ruang, a 2,400-foot (725-meter) stratovolcano located on Ruang Island in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province, erupted at least seven times since Tuesday night. Stratovolcanoes, with their distinctive cone shape, can produce powerful explosions due to gas buildup. The eruptions ejected a massive ash plume, and some volcanic gases soared more than 65,000 feet into the air, surpassing the cruising altitude of commercial airplanes by about 25,000 feet. No casualties have been reported.

Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago of 270 million people, has over 120 active volcanoes – more than anywhere else in the world. It sits along the Ring of Fire, a 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometer) arc of seismic fault lines around the Pacific Ocean.

Short-Term Climate Impact
1. Cooling Effect

Volcanoes can have a short-term impact on global climate by injecting gases high into the upper atmosphere. The dense ash near the surface creates hazardous air quality and temporarily cools the Earth’s surface by blocking out sunlight. However, this cooling effect is short-lived as ash settles relatively quickly.

2. Stratospheric Injection

Mount Ruang’s eruptions were so powerful that some gases punched into the stratosphere, Earth’s second atmospheric layer located just above the troposphere where weather occurs. While the ash settles, these gases remain aloft, potentially influencing climate patterns.

Long-Term Weather and Climate Effects
1. Minimal Influence on Climate

According to Greg Huey, chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Mount Ruang’s impact on climate will likely be minimal. Day-to-day weather conditions near the volcano, such as temperature, clouds, and rain, probably won’t be significantly influenced by the eruption in the long term.

2. Global Implications

While local weather may not see drastic changes, the stratospheric injection of volcanic gases could have broader implications. These gases may interact with sunlight, affecting the Earth’s energy balance and potentially leading to subtle shifts in global temperatures and atmospheric circulation.


As Mount Ruang continues to rumble, scientists closely monitor its effects. While awe-inspiring, this volcanic drama reminds us of the delicate balance between Earth’s forces and our climate. (zai)
Photo: AFP