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Lesson 4
Climate: A Balancing Act

How does the Earth’s energy balance regulate climate?


On March 20th, 2010, the Icelandic glacier volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted, emitting 250 million cubic meters of ash into the Earth’s atmosphere. Watch the eruption below.

We don't know what the effects of this specific volcano will be, but many volcanoes in the past have contributed to decreases in Earth's surface temperature. Continue to Topic 1 to learn why!

Historically, every time that Eyjafjallajökull erupted, it's powerful sister volcano Katla also erupted. If Katla erupts, it will emit at least 10 times as much ash as Eyjafjallajökull. What effect might this ash have on the Earth's temperature?

This lesson explores how factors ranging from atmospheric ash particles to natural vegetation can impact the amount of energy that enters and exits Earth’s atmosphere. This balance, known as the Earth’s radiation balance, ultimately regulates our planet’s climate.