Edinburgh, U.K. – Major volcanic eruptions do not only affect the air’s environment, it also influences the flow of some of the biggest rivers in the world, a study shows. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh analyzed 50 major rivers and volcanic eruptions from Krakatoa in 1883 to Pinatubo in 1991.

Scientists expect to predict the levels of water that affect directly on the rainfall on future major eruptions. They discovered that the flows of these rivers decreased after a one or two year period following the volcano’s eruption, a process that may be explained due to the amounts of debris the volcano expels, creating a partial sunscreen. This could cause shortage on rainfall, less sunlight means less evaporation, messing with the water cycle.

According to the study, two of the world’s largest rivers like the Nile and the Amazon showed an important reducement of about 10 percent, due to major volcanic eruptions. Credit: 7 Themes

“It was known that volcanic eruptions affect global rainfall, but it was previously unclear to what extent this translated into changes in river flow,” said Dr Carley Iles, co-author of the study, according to ABC News.

Although the study does not specify data on the water volume, two of the world’s largest rivers like the Nile and the Amazon showed an important reducement of about 10 percent. This could mean serious impact on agriculture and the life of people that live near those rivers, Iles suggested. These types of results were found generally in tropical regions, including northern Asia and the Congo.

“Our findings reveal the indirect effect that volcanoes can have on rivers, and could be very valuable in the event of a major volcanic eruption in future,” Isle adds. The paper was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Researchers wanted to warn about the side effects that could bring geoengineering as a solution to this issue. Volcanoes are a natural way of cooling the planet and using this type of technology to replicate its effects on large scales could have terrible consequences, scientists conclude.

Source: ABC Australia