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Chaitén is a volcano on the west coast of South America in Chile. It experienced a major eruption on 3 May 2008 that has been ongoing until now. This image was acquired on 27 September 2009.

Volcanos affect climate by releasing material that changes the composition of the atmosphere. Gases such as carbon dioxide lead to warming. Sulfur dioxide and sulfate aerosols can have a cooling effect (and lead to acid rain). Solid particles of ash and dust can also reflect sunlight back to space leading to cooling.

Also starkly apparent in this image is the effect of orographic precipitation. This occurs when prevailing winds carry moisture up mountain slopes where it precipitates out leaving the leeward side of the mountain range dry. Since air cools as it rises its relative humidity also rises until it reaches saturation. On the other side of the mountains the air sinks again, warming and drying (relatively speaking) at the same time. This is called a rain shadow.

You can see the entire satellite image as well.

Here is an image of the recent major eruption: 3 May 2008.

UVic / SEOS / Climate Group / About Front Page Picture / Brief title of Picture Last updated: Friday, 02-Oct-2009 09:20:08 PDT
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