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The climate-driven rise and fall of sea level during the past million years matches up with valleys and ridges on the seafloor, suggesting ice ages influence underwater volcanic eruptions, two new studies reveal. And because volcanic chains suture some 37,000 miles (59,500 kilometers) of ocean floor, the eruptions could pump out enough carbon dioxide gas to shift planetary temperatures, the study authors suggest.
"Surprisingly, the deep seafloor matters in the long-term climate cycle," said Maya Tolstoy, lead author of one of the studies and a marine geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York.
Both studies suggest that there could be a complex feedback loop among ice ages, sea level changes and these bursts of volcanic activity. For instance, if volcanoes pick up their pace during an ice age, then carbon dioxide gas could warm the Earth and shrink the ice sheets. (Underwater volcanoes pump carbon dioxide into the ocean, just as their terrestrial cousins add climate-altering gases to the atmosphere.) However, no one knows how much gas would escape into the atmosphere from the oceans.
Ice ages are driven by regular variations in Earth's orbit. These changes in tilt, eccentricity and orbit create climate cycles that last 23,000 years; 41,000 years; and 100,000 years, respectively (at least for the previous million years). Sea level may rise and fall by some 330 feet (about 100 meters) during these climate swings.
"In a broad sense, this reinforces the idea that the climate system and the solid Earth are connected and, in fact, may be thought of as a single system," Katz said. "Not only do ice ages affect volcanism, but volcanism has a feedback effect on climate itself. We haven't proved that yet, but it's a tantalizing possibility."
"Both of these data sets have found a signal which is consistent with climate forcing of variations at midocean ridges," said Paul Asimow, a geology professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who was not involved in either study. "Now, apart from showing the effect is there, the other part that needs to be teased out is its consequences."
originally posted by: soficrow
a reply to: theabsolutetruth
Makes sense to me too but haven't you heard? ...The Earth's climate is not warming. Not even due to multifactorial causes.
And because volcanic chains suture some 37,000 miles (59,500 kilometers) of ocean floor, the eruptions could pump out enough carbon dioxide gas to shift planetary temperatures, the study authors suggest.
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A second paper, published today in Geophysical Research Letters,3 comes to similar conclusions. Maya Tolstoy, a geophysicist at Columbia University in New York, found that volcanic activity along the East Pacific Rise, an ocean ridge off the coast of Mexico, ebbs and flows in regular cycles. Among other shorter cycles, she found on the fast-spreading sea floor in that region a 100,000-year pattern strikingly in synch with the most prominent of Earth’s natural glacial cycles.
Carbon dioxide escaping from the depths of the ocean heralded the end of the last Ice Age, a study suggests.
Its release into the atmosphere drove the shift towards a warmer period, according to scientists at the University of Southampton.
The research, published in Nature, is based on analysing chemical signals in the shells of ancient plankton.
The world's oceans absorb about a third of the atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
Scientists predict that as the oceans warm, their ability to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide will be reduced, potentially leading to faster global warming.
Dr Miguel Martinez-Boti, who co-led the study, said the findings showed that there was a link between very high concentrations of dissolved carbon dioxide in parts of the ocean and rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide at the end of the last Ice Age.
"This increases our understanding of the role of the ocean in the carbon cycle," he told BBC News.
"The ocean is a much bigger reservoir for carbon than the atmosphere, so how the ocean interacts with the atmosphere is very important."
Timothy Casey B.Sc. (Hons.)
Revision 3 ISO:2014-Jun-07
A brief survey of the literature concerning volcanogenic carbon dioxide emission finds that estimates of subaerial emission totals fail to account for the diversity of volcanic emissions and are unprepared for individual outliers that dominate known volcanic emissions. Deepening the apparent mystery of total volcanogenic CO2 emission, there is no magic fingerprint with which to identify industrially produced CO2 as there is insufficient data to distinguish the effects of volcanic CO2 from fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere. Molar ratios of O2 consumed to CO2 produced are, moreover, of little use due to the abundance of processes (eg. weathering, corrosion, etc) other than volcanic CO2 emission and fossil fuel consumption that are, to date, unquantified. Furthermore, the discovery of a surprising number of submarine volcanoes highlights the underestimation of global volcanism and provides a loose basis for an estimate that may partly explain ocean acidification and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels observed last century, as well as shedding much needed light on intensified polar spring melts. Based on this brief literature survey, we may conclude that volcanic CO2 emissions are much higher than previously estimated, and as volcanic CO2 contributions are effectively indistinguishable from industrial CO2 contributions, we cannot glibly assume that the increase of atmospheric CO2 is exclusively anthropogenic.