Sunday, August 17, 2008

Melt, Dammit

American Scofflaw

I was contemplating the nature of the Earth the other day and realized there is a huge gaping hole in the understanding of the climate.

We have mapped the bottom of the oceans, but those maps are incomplete because they do not show the presence of active volcanoes. Only last year was it discovered that the El Nino current may be linked to a recently discovered string of active volcanoes on the sea floor near New Zealand.

Everyone talk about melting arctic ice being the possible villain that temporarily halted the north Atlantic "conveyor belt" current that brings equatorial heat to Europe, triggering the mini-ice age.
But some quick calculations demonstrate that an undersea volcano. off shore of Iceland or almost anywhere along the mid-atlantic ridge (which we already know is thermally active) could create an upwelling in the region where the current normally has a downflow, and disrupt the whole current system.

Of course, you cannot persuade taxpayers to cough up more money for climate changes caused by undersea volcanoes, which is probably why there seems to be little interest (or finding) to carry out a survey to see just what hot spots are down there.

But in a world of perfect academic freedom and funding, such a survey might solve many mysteries that remain about the climate.

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