Large earthquakes can cause rapid Arctic warming

The Aleutian Islands are an archipelago of dozens of islands with 40 active և 17 dormant volcanoes.

A MIPT researcher has proposed a new explanation for the rapid warming of the Arctic. In his latest work Geological sciences, he suggested that the warming could have been triggered by a series of major earthquakes.

Global warming is one of the most pressing issues facing civilization. It is widely believed that this is due to human activity, which increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, this view does not explain why temperatures sometimes rise quite sharply.

In the Arctic, one of the factors contributing to global warming is the release of methane from the constant frost in the drawer zone և liquefaction of gas metastases. Since the researchers began monitoring the temperature in the Arctic, two periods of sharp warming have been observed in the region. First in the 1920s և 30s, then started in 1980 վել continued to this day.

Leopold Lobkovsky, the author of the study in this story, is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and head of the Laboratory for Geophysical Research at the Arctic Ocean, a continent of the World Ocean Arctic. In his article, the scientist hypothesized that abrupt changes in temperature could be triggered by geodynamic factors. In particular, he pointed to a number of huge earthquakes in the Aleutian Arch, which is the closest area to the seismically active Arctic.

Arctic air temperature change anomaly

Arctic air temperature change anomaly since 1900. Dense red lines indicate two stages of sharp warming. Arctic տվյալ Data compiled by the Antarctic Research Institute. Loan Leopold Lobkovsky / Geology

To test his hypothesis, Lobkovsky had to answer three questions. First of all, did the dates of the big earthquakes coincide with the temperature jump? Second, what is the mechanism that allows lithosphere disturbances to spread more than 2,000 kilometers from the Aleutian Islands to the Arctic Circle? Third, how do these disturbances increase methane emissions?

The answer to the first question came from the analysis of historical data. It turned out that the Aleutian arch was indeed the site of two major earthquakes of the 20th century (more on that in the text). Each of them was preceded by a sharp rise in temperature for about 15-20 years.

To answer the second question, a model of lithospheric excitation dynamics was needed. The model used by the researcher describes the propagation of so-called tectonic waves և predicts that they should pass at a distance of about 100 kilometers per year. This is in line with each delay in large series of earthquakes, followed by a rise in temperature, as the disruptions took 15 to 20 years to travel over 2,000 kilometers.

To answer the third question, the researcher offered the following explanation. The deformation waves coming into the bookshelf cause insignificant additional stresses in the lithosphere, which are sufficient to disrupt the internal structure of the hydrated gas hydrates and the frozen methane of the telescope under the telescope. This releases methane into the water’s atmosphere, which leads to global warming due to the greenhouse effect.

“There is a clear correlation between the great earthquakes of the Aleutian Arc and the stages of climate warming. There is a mechanism for physically transferring stress in the lithosphere at the appropriate speed. And these added stresses can destroy gas metastases և telescope by releasing methane. Each of the three components of this scheme gives logical, mathematical and physical explanations. “Perhaps this explains the well-known fact that the temperature in the Arctic has risen sharply, which remained unanswered for previous models,” said Lobkovsky.

According to the researcher, his model will benefit from the discussions և it will probably improve, there is a lot to be done to confirm or rule out the proposed mechanism.

Reference. Leopold Lobkovsky, “October 29, 2020”, “Seismogenic-stimulating mechanism of activation of gas emissions in the Arctic shelf փուլ in the stages of rapid heating”, Geological sciences,
DOI: 10.3390 / geosciences10110428:

The research in this story was conducted at MIPT with the support of the Russian Science Foundation, Grant No. 20-17-00140.

Two large series of earthquakes. The first one started with an 18-magnitude earthquake in 1899 in the eastern part of the Aleutian Arch, followed by two major earthquakes in the western part of the islands with a magnitude of 8.3 և 8.4. The second series began with a magnitude 8.6 earthquake in 1956, followed by a magnitude 9.3 earthquake in Alaska in 1963. An earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale shook the western part of the country the following year. Each of these devastating seismic events had underground springs that ran for hundreds of miles.

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