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Global Warming Makes Volcanoes Erupt

From Nature News:

Volcanoes stirred by climate change

17 September 2009

Impact of global warming on geological hazards ‘poorly understood’, experts warn.

Geologists are desperately trying to gather data in an attempt to understand how global warming will affect violent geological activity.

As increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels warm the planet, the problems associated with melting ice won’t just raise sea-levels; they will also uncap volcanoes. But just when and how these unstable magmatic beasts will blow in a warmer world is hard to predict.

"The fact is we are causing future contemporary climate change. [Geological hazards are] another portfolio of things we haven’t thought of," says Bill McGuire from the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre at University College London. He organized a meeting of volcanologists and oceanographers at the university on 15–17 September to draw attention to the problem.

A priority is to develop global models of how changes in the climate bring about changes in geological activity, and how those processes feed back into the system. At present, such models just don’t exist, says David Pyle, a volcano expert from the University of Oxford, UK, who spoke at the meeting.

The problem is complex, exacerbated by the difficulty of separating forcing by the climate from the effects of a volcanic eruption — aerosols emitted by an eruption will have consequences for atmospheric chemistry, which in turn affect the climate. "The complex consequences of volcanic activity for the atmospheric biosphere remain poorly understood," Pyle says.

But there is definitely some evidence that less ice means more dramatic eruptions. "As thick ice is getting thinner, there may be an increase in the explosivity of eruptions," says Hugh Tuffen from Lancaster University, UK. Tuffen has spent time in many countries, including Iceland and Chile, studying volcanoes. The effects of climate change over the next 100 years will be different for different volcanoes, he says, and much more data are needed if we are to understand what those effects might be. But such data are not trivial to collect: volcanoes are isolated, dangerous places for field trips.

For example, in Iceland at the end of the last deglaciation period, about 11,000 years ago, there was a huge spike in volcanic activity that is now thought to be due to meltwater flooding the area. In Icelandic volcanoes, the ice provides a protective cap that, when removed, makes the magma below the surface decompress much faster than is already occurring through normal geological movement. The steady state that usually exists is lost, making eruptions faster and more explosive. There is not much delay between the climatic change and the volcanic eruption in these cases, says Tuffen

Tuffen warns that lives could be at risk. In Chile, at Nevados de Chillán, an area that seems particularly susceptible to climate change, local geologists were incensed, he says, when a ski resort was built close to a volcano.

Tony Song from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has modelled a hypothetical scenario in which melting could trigger a huge underground landslide, causing an enormous glacial tsunami. "As ice sheets melt more quickly than thought, these should be thought of more," says Song.

"We still don’t really know what the threat over the next 100 years will be," says Tuffen. "I don’t think we should be scaremongering, we should be thinking about hazard mitigation."

McGuire agrees. "The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] hasn’t addressed these kinds of hazard," he says. "You have a better chance of coping with any kind of hazard if you know it’s happening," he adds. "Climate change is not just the atmosphere and hydrosphere; it’s the geosphere as well."

Hey, why not?

We never believed those stories about volcanoes being because of underground gods working on their forges, anyway.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, September 18th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

28 Responses to “Global Warming Makes Volcanoes Erupt”

  1. Right of the People says:

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling. Give me a break. We just had one of the coldest winters and one of the coldest and rainiest summers on record and we have global warming?

    Must be the work of the evil Algore.

  2. crosspatch says:

    Antarctic ice is thickening. Greenland ice is thickening. Arctic ice is thickening the past two years but that doesn’t count because the ice that is thinning is floating on water, not on land. Take a glass of ice water and weigh it. Wait for the ice to melt. Notice that it still weighs the same after the ice melts.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Frozen water (ice) has a lower specific gravity and is less dense than liquid water. Thus, per unit measurement (cubic inches/meters, etc) it’s effect on land masses is less than say…the MILES OF OCEAN that sit on top of the Earth’s crust at the bottom of the sea. It has long been the belief of scientists that the Earth’s crust is actually thinner at the bottom of the oceans than o’er the continental land masses.

      But….such science is “ridiculous” and drummed up by the right wing lunatic fringe.

      But also, if it makes them feel good to talk about volcanoes…fine. BTW….a volcano typically puts more “greenhouse” gasses into the atmosphere in a day than humankind has done in its entire existence. SooooOOOOOOooo…..I’m just sayin….

      Maybe volcanoes should be outlawed…or somehow subjected to the cap and trade system?

    • Colonel1961 says:

      When volcanoes are outlawed, only outlaws will have volcanoes…

    • crosspatch says:

      I believe that if you check, you will find that Yellowstone last erupted during an glacial period, not an interglacial.

      The huge eruption in Italy some 26,000 years ago was also during a glacial period.

      Chicago was under a mile or more of ice at the maximum of the last glacial and I don’t know of any eruptions in that area since the ice receded. In fact, the ice sheet reached all the way to the Nebraska/Kansas state line. No volcanoes in Nebraska or the Dakotas either. Or Minnesota … or New England.

      It’s crap.

  3. GL0120 says:

    Would tossing Algore and other global warming nuts into volcanoes satisfy the gods and prevent eruptions?

    • Reality Bytes says:

      No – but I’m still OK with it

    • Moonspinner says:

      I don’t know if it will appease the valcano gods, but it sure sounds like a plan to me. After they are thrown in, then we can stick Nancy Pelosi’s big butt in the opening of the crater as a plug to make sure the gods don’t try to throw them back.

  4. P. Aaron says:

    But what about this weekend’s tailgate patry?

  5. proreason says:

    The volcanoes on Mars stopped erupting millions of years ago.

    There must have a very good government there.

    • SinCity says:

      That is a part of the tree-huggers logic I never understood. I have a very hard time believing that human activity can change PLANETARY forces. They obviously don’t have two brain cells to rub together to make that connection.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Being the HUGe astronomy fan that I am, was watching “The Universe” series produced by The History Channel. 90% of the time it’s a good viewing. However….when watching the segment on Venus….I had to pause it to stick sharp things in my eyes so as to avoid being sick over the “connection” that certain people make over Venus having an atmosphere of mostly CO2 and that it’s hot enough to melt lead there….and the Earth…and its increasing amount of “greenhouse gasses”.

      I sat there and quietly debunked every loose leap of logic made to include that there are is no plantlife there that thrives on CO2.

      I understand the implications…I’ve done the experiment with the covered fishtank full of CO2 and the one with “regular” air.

      But I’ve also been to Biosphere II which was money spent on an abysmal failure.

      The way I see it, I do believe that “man” has altered the environment….but not to the degree or the severity that certain people would have us believe. It is also never explained that the Sun puts out a variable amount of energy over time. It is “relatively” constant but not perfectly so. Then, the Earths’ orbit is an ellipse…not a circle….additionally, gravitational anomalies can pull the Earth closer to the Sun over time….for an undefined period of time.

      There is much to study…much to learn. Ice cores and a backyard thermometer do not “empirical data” make.

      For every point a supporter of “climate change” or “global warming” and every point they make, there is an equally compelling and just as reasonable counterpoint. The evidence is not satisfactory at this point and I would dare say that even an 8th grade science teacher would tell the student that there isn’t enough data yet to reach a definitive conclusion.

      We have only clues.

      But so far, it’s like saying that because you found a cat hair in your apartment that there must be an entire clutter of cats living there.

  6. Grassy Knoll says:

    It is actually worse than any of you think. We are putting so much carbon dioxide into the air that is is affecting other planets, like Mars. Do you think it is just a coincidence that Mars is warming, too? Hardly. The very core of the Earth is now in danger, alas, our very solar system is in danger and you people make your snide, little sarcastic remarks. Shame. Shame. These people are just trying to save you from yourselves. The sooner you see this, the sooner we can all be happy and driving a Prius. I hear they are making one that can drive on molten lava. That will come in handy. Boy, things are really gonna heat up when all the volcanoes blow.

  7. beautyofreason says:

    Speaking of underground gods, the largest volcano in the solar system is Olympus Mons on Mars. Maybe we pesky humans caused that too by a….blah blah….er…gravitational causal effect related to the massive amount of waste dispersed from former space endeavors that is currently clogging up our planet. Time to shut down all future space missions. Lives are at risk. Must not let economic or scientific concerns cloud our desire to hug a tree.

    So sick of the smelly chicken little crap that passes for truth in the environmentalist movement. If you listen to them, they are generally anti-capitalists pushing other social objectives than the environment – they usually claim that things that improve the standard of living – and the developed world itself – are causing the destruction of the planet! Not disputing species extinction or that certain habitats are at risk in slash and burn practices in Africa and the Amazon, but 90% of the movement is phony and just into scare tactics!

    • proreason says:

      The weather changes.

      Who knew?

    • beautyofreason says:

      Chaos theory, Pro. A man farts, somewhere in the Sahara a baby elephant dies. We’re all destroying the planet by releasing CO2, just like animals, volcanoes, and various forms of decaying plant matter have done for eons. And living in houses with air conditioning, antibacterial soap and frozen food – man we are really asking for it.


    • SinCity says:

      What drives me absolutely batty is that they picked the wrong boogie man gas. There is no correlation between temperature and the level of CO2. However, there is a direct correlation between sun spot activity and global temperatures. That’s it, we will have to outlaw the interaction between solar flares and water vapor!

    • proreason says:

      “they picked the wrong boogie man gas”

      but you gotta hand it to them for sticking with the lie. they’ll never back down. never

  8. caligirl9 says:

    Lemme see if I am understanding this … because of global warming/climate change or whatever we are calling it this week, the tops of volcanoes will melt and hot molten lava will sew forth and kill us all, but we can stop this if we buy carbon credits at SFO?

    So it was dinosaur farts that killed the dinosaurs. ’cause they made a big nasty climate change.

    Sounds like funky science to me…

  9. canary says:

    Well, if we’d not destroyed dinasours, this would not being happening now. I thought I was at the top of the chain.

  10. BillK says:

    I’m continuing to grow ever more ashamed of ever wanting a career in science.

    Today’s scientists have nothing on the religious leaders who jailed Galileo.

    The age of pure science or actually collecting data before issuing rash, publicity-generating statements is long since over.

    • proreason says:

      Science: the art of pretending use the scientific method to buttress the facts you cite to get your way

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      What has been happening Pro ( you prolly know this) is that in order to get funding, the “scientists” manipulate data or just flat out lie…which is not to say many of them don’t actually believe it themselves. I had a very gifted science teacher who in one class, through demonstration taught us how easy it is to get the results you’re looking for, rather than having empirical, untainted results when doing an experiment.

      I doubt they teach such critical thinking in schools anymore.

      But scientists with an agenda can be the worst thing…not to mention the foundation for most crappy sci-fi movies of the 1950’s.

    • proreason says:

      “the “scientists” manipulate data or just flat out lie”

      Yep. It’s a logical consequence of Relativism, the religion of the left. The one that was brought over by the communists to undermine just about everything in this country.

      If everything is relative, then there is no truth. If there is no truth then there is not scientific truth. If there is no scientific truth, then there isn’t even anything wrong with faking experimental results. You might as well get the outcome you prefer.

      They even have a core scientific theory, universally accepted, that proves everything is relative (or at least, it proves you can never know the truth with certainly).

      “the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known to arbitrary precision. That is, the more precisely one property is known, the less precisely the other can be known.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle

      Imagine living a life where you can never really know what’s right or wrong.

      Why, you would be a liberal, wouldn’t you? And you would be opposed to religion. And you couldn’t accept the concept of allies. And the government would have as good or better chances to be right about something than you would. And the Constitution would have to be malleable. And judges couldn’t seek the truth, only an approximation of the truth that would change at a later time. And no truths “would be self evident”.

      You would be in Obamyland.

  11. Liberals Demise says:

    Cap and Trade or Carbon Footprint ……….. anyone?

  12. WendyB says:

    I conducted a little experiment of my own this weekend, and asked several of my pesky in-laws, tree huggers every one, some questions about their belief in anthropogenic global warming. Boy, did that stir up a blamestorm! I was chastised for being more concerned with “ideology than with scientific integrity” (er, I’m not a scientist, so I don’t have to worry about my own scientific integrity, I was asking about the IPCC participants’ scientific integrity). The best, though, was when my sister-in-law the educator informed me that her Masters degree in “Science Education” enabled her to determine that the science behind AGW is sound and the skeptics’ claims are bogus. I told her that I’m starting to wish I, too, had a degree in Science Indoctrination because I’m really starting to worry about what they’re teaching kids in schools these days. Bottom line: they absolutely refuse to consider some of the more obvious problems with the IPCC’s existence, incentives, lack of accountability, etc.

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