Volcanic eruptions may only last a few days, but they may affect the climate for a much longer period of time. This is due to the large amounts of gas (mainly sulphur dioxide) and ash that are released when a volcano erupts. These emissions can linger in the atmosphere for several years and affect the amount of solar energy reaching the earth. Scientific studies show that an individual volcanic eruption can lower temperatures and cause global cooling with its effects lasting for years.
The impacts of volcanic eruptions on the global climate were observed in the aftermath of the Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines in 1991. Although large scale volcanic eruptions have been infrequent recently, current research continues to explore the impact that large scale volcanic eruptions may have on the climate in the future.