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Climate Change Can Have Seismic Consequences

Jim notes this morning that last month was among the top 5 hottest Septembers ever, measured in terms of average global temperature. That’s got consequences that go far beyond just that it’s hot (upper 80s in Washington D.C. in mid-October, for example).

The increased atmospheric heat is literally shaking the ground. This morning brings new that avalanches and landslides have become more common over the last decade, as mountain glaciers are breaking up.

The great melt is increasing sea level at an accelerating pace as well, and that in turn may increase the risk of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. How? According to Bill McGuire at the Hazard Research Center in University College London, huge amounts of shifting weight as water is transferred from polar and mountain deposits to the Earth’s oceans can actually squeeze the molten inside of our planet in new ways, resulting in tectonic consequences.

Bill McGuire was interviewed about his research in this area by journalist Susan Casey, who included the information in her recently published book, The Wave. It’s a fascinating piece of work that brings together shipping, surfers and scientists in tales of great adventure and dire warnings. In her book, Casey notes that wave size has dramatically increased in the Earth’s oceans – by almost a third over the last generation. Is there a link to these ocean dangers and climate change? Wave dynamics are extremely complicated, but science seems to be coagulating toward supporting that assertion.

It makes us all sound rather helpless, doesn’t it? The truth is, we’re not. We have the power to take action to reduce global warming.

This morning, I’m taking my kids to go plant trees with a bunch of other people in our community. What are you going to do?

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