Saturday, June 18, 2011

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

There seem to be too many earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes on our television screens of late. Imagine the outrage of the witchburners (loonies who send death threats to climate scientists) if it was suggested that earthquakes and volcanoes could be associated with climate change. Well those of us who feel a sense of urgency about action on climate - and espouse the need for massive soil carbon sequestration to stall global warming - are interested in considering the possibility. In recent years, New Scientist and Scientific American have published reports on the matter and in the Royal Society's Journal* we find this:

"Periods of exceptional climate change in Earth history are associated with a dynamic response from the solid Earth, involving enhanced levels of potentially hazardous geological and geomorphological activity. This response is expressed through the adjustment, modulation or triggering of a wide range of surface and crustal phenomena, including volcanic and seismic activity, submarine and sub-aerial landslides, tsunamis and landslide 'splash' waves glacial outburst and rock-dam failure floods, debris flows and gas-hydrate destabilisation. Looking ahead, modelling studies and projection of current trends point towards increased risk in relation to a spectrum of geological and geomorphological hazards in a world warmed by anthropogenic climate change, while observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere."

Now at what frequency of natural disasters do we need to reach before the soil carbon solution is summoned?

*Bill McGuire, Richard Betts, Christopher Kilburn, Mark Maslin, David Pyle, John Smellie and David Tappin, Climate forcing of geological and geomorphological hazards, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, May 2010

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