Seafloor Volcano Pulses May Alter Climate

321 words | 2 page(s)

Scientists have for a long time presumed that undersea volcano activity is a slow and steady flow of lava along the mid-ocean ridges. However, a recent study by The Earth Institute indicates that undersea volcanoes erupt in regular cycles that range from two weeks to periods of over 100 000 years. These cycles occur during the first half of the year and are linked to short and long-term changes in sea levels and earth’s orbit (The Earth Institute par2). This new finding suggests that scientists may have to adjust the existing models of the dynamics of earth’s natural climate including models of human-influenced climate change.

The findings refute the assumption that seafloor volcanoes are in a steady state implying that their influence is not negligible. This new development is important due to the fact that the volcanically active mid-ocean ranges cover over 37, 000 miles and form new areas of the sea floor that comprise 80% of the earth’s crust. According to geophysicist, Maya Tolstoy, they produce a minimum of eight times more lava yearly than land volcanoes even when they are in a languid state (TEI par5). Consequently, their CO2 emission around 88 million metric tons, but this figure can rise significantly even with a minimal increase in activity.

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Scientists posit that icecaps on land apply pressure on volcanoes thereby suppressing eruptions. Consequently, the current spate of global warming tends to release the pressure leading to a rise in eruptions. The eruptions produce CO2 increases the warming leading to the melting of more ice and causing a self-sustaining system that ultimately warms the planet (TEI par8). However, warming suppresses undersea eruptions due to an increase in the volume of sea water. Thus, scientists should include estimates of suppressed undersea eruptions when calculating the effects of global warming on volcanic activity.

  • The Earth Institute at Columbia University. “Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate:
    Strikingly regular patterns, from weeks to eons.” ScienceDaily. Web. 5 February 2015. .

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