Climate Change Is Linked to Underwater Volcanoes

Climate Change

Underwater volcanoes may be linked to long-term influence on climate change. The thought process was that most everything about climate change has to do with things that happen on the surface of Earth. This is not so true. The idea that underwater volcanoes affect climate change was simply brushed off before. This is because they were thought to only have a small influence on the changing temperatures.

Seafloor volcanoes have been ignored because people think their influence is small, and this is true, if the volcanoes are in a steady state. The volcanoes are not in a steady state according to Maya Tolstoy, lead author, Columbia University Marine Geophysicist.

This year less carbon dioxide has been emitted from volcanoes, however the carbon dioxide levels are going up. The carbon dioxide, among others things spewed from volcanoes, are trapped in currents going into the atmosphere.

The surface of Earth and its interior are thought to be completely separate. People that study the surface tend to not pay attention to what happens underground and people underground tend to not pay attention to what is on the surface, according to John Crowley, Harvard and Oxford university researcher.

In the Geophysical Research Letters by Tolstoy, she found that volcanic activity on Earth is tied to small movements of Earth around the sun. Tolstoy depended on live monitoring of the underwater volcanoes along the 37,000 miles of ocean ridges on Earth. The ocean spreading are the fastest on the planet, which is ideal for volcanic activity.

The Geophysical Research Letters found that as tide changes, the volcanic activity suppresses or thrives according to high tide or low tide, respectively. Tolstoy predicts that as sea levels rise causing to mimic high tides, which would trigger ice ages or warm periods, both affect sea levels and decrease or increase volcanic activity.

It may be easy to blame underwater volcanoes because they are linked to climate change but it is not their fault. People’s contribution of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere far outweighs the contribution of prehistoric volcanoes to climate change.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA,  human contribution of carbon dioxide will continue to be the king of the hill for climate change. He also said that we cannot blame seafloor eruptions for the increase in carbon dioxide levels.

Carbon dioxide is rising due to human contributions, and thus a lower rate of eruptions according to Tolstoy. In addition, Tolstoy said that during the first half of every year, when Earth is moved from its nearest position to the sun in January to the its farthest in June helps bring magma to the surface of earth.

The eruption data that Tolstoy referred to that was over a span of 700,000 years, during colder times undersea eruptions surged. Researchers normally study what happens on the surface of Earth and on the interior separately. John Crowley, head author, researcher at the Harvard and Oxford. He goes on to say that there is a strong link between the interior and surface of Earth.

It was already known the interior and surface had a link but now, as Crowley suggests, instead of a small and insignificant link there is a strong link. He does not know how present day sea level will affect the future.

It is thought that as ice melts the sea levels will rise, but ice takes up more space than water so sea levels would be lower, thus a possible increase in volcanic activity. Underwater volcanoes do have a link to climate change and vice-versa.

By Jacob Dowd


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Photo by micah craig – License

2 Responses to "Climate Change Is Linked to Underwater Volcanoes"

  1. clarksavage   March 16, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    “It is thought that as ice melts the sea levels will rise, but ice takes up more space than water so sea levels would be lower…” To me this make little since because much of the ice is on land above sea level – examples – Greenland, Antarctica…

  2. Jake Dowd   February 10, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Is this implying that if ice melts there would be more volcanic activity because of lower sea levels? I know that those glaciers displace more water than they have. Like an ice cube takes up more space than water because it expands when it freezes.

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