PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Pinatubo, Diffuse Light, and the Carbon Cycle

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Science  28 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5615, pp. 1997-1998
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080681

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Similar to clouds, volcanic eruptions increase the proportion of diffuse light reaching Earth's surface. As Farquhar and Roderick show in their Perspective, this change in the geometry (rather than intensity) of light can have a profound influence on photosynthesis and the carbon cycle. They highlight the research article by Gu et al ., who have measured changes in net COexchange following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. Volcanoes, pollution, and greenhouse gases may all increase diffuse light, with important consequences for Earth's carbon cycle and climate.