Written by James E. Kamis on November 6, 2018
Recent research shows that the volume of volcanic CO2 currently being emitted into Earth’s atmosphere is far greater than previously calculated, challenging the validity of the man-made global warming theory.
Figure 1: Volcanic gas emissions breakthrough overlying fractured and partially melted glacial ice sheet. (Image credits: Christina Neal, AVO/USGS)
The cornerstone principle of the global warming theory, anthropogenic global warming (AGW), is built on the premise that significant increases of modern era human-induced CO2 emissions have acted to unnaturally warm Earth’s atmosphere.
A warmed atmosphere that directly, or in some cases indirectly fuels anomalous environmental disasters such as ocean warming, alteration of ocean chemistry, polar ice sheet melting, global sea level rise, coral bleaching and most importantly dramatic changes in climate.
There are numerous major problems with the AGW principle.
Identification of Volcanic vs. Man-made CO2
Natural volcanic and man-made CO2 emissions have the exact same and very distinctive carbon isotopic fingerprint. It is therefore scientifically impossible to distinguish the difference between volcanic CO2 and human-induced CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels (see here). This major problem with the AGW principle has been rationalized away by consensus climate scientists who insist, based supposedly reliable research, that volcanic emissions are minuscule in comparison to human-induced CO2 emissions (Gerlach 1991). Terrance Gerlach’s volcanic CO2 calculation was based on just 7 actively erupting land volcanoes and three actively erupting ocean floor hydrothermal vents (seafloor hot geysers). Utilizing gas emission data from this very limited number of volcanic features, Gerlach estimated that the volume of natural volcanic CO2 emissions is 100 to 150 times less than the volume of man-made CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and therefore of no consequence.
To put this calculation process into perspective, the Earth is home to 1,500 land volcanoes and 900,000 seafloor volcanoes/hydrothermal vents. By sampling just an extremely small percent of these volcanic features it is impossible to imagine that the calculation is correct.
Especially knowing that volcanic activity varies greatly from area to area, volcano to volcano, and through time. Utilizing just 0.001 percent (10/901,500) of Earth’s volcanic features to calculate volcanic CO2 emissions does not inspire confidence in the resulting value.
Non-Erupting Volcanoes Can Emit Massive Amounts of CO2 into Earth’s Atmosphere
Recent geological research by the University of Leeds and others proves that non-erupting volcanoes can emit massive amounts of CO2 into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. The Gerlach calculation and all follow-up calculations utilized volcanic CO2 rates from actively erupting volcanoes.
Lost in the numerous recent media articles concerning the argument of when, or if Iceland’s Katla Volcano will erupt is the discovery that this non-erupting subglacial volcano is currently emitting staggering amounts of CO2 into Earth’s atmosphere!
Researchers from the University of Leeds who studied the Katla Volcano said this.
“We discovered that Katla volcano in Iceland is a globally important source of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in spite of being previously assumed to be a minor gas emitter. Volcanoes are a key natural source of atmospheric CO2 but estimates of the total global amount of CO2 that volcanoes emit are based on only a small number of active volcanoes. Very few volcanoes which are covered by glacial ice have been measured for gas emissions, probably because they tend to be difficult to access and often do not have obvious degassing vents. Through high‐precision airborne measurements and atmospheric dispersion modeling, we show that Katla, a highly hazardous subglacial volcano which last erupted 100 years ago, is one of the largest volcanic sources of CO2 on Earth, releasing up to 5% of total global volcanic emissions. This is significant in the context of a growing awareness that natural CO2 sources have to be more accurately quantified in climate assessments and we recommend urgent investigations of other subglacial volcanoes worldwide.”(see here)
The Number of Volcanoes Emitting CO2 into the Atmosphere at Any One Time
The calculation of the total yearly volume of volcanic CO2 emitted into the atmosphere is based on the presumption that very few volcanoes are erupting at any one time. Scientists from various worldwide volcano research institutions, most notably the United States Geological Survey, have estimated this number to be 20. This very low number has been challenged by many scientists including those at NASA.
A multinational team led by NASA has initiated a high-resolution satellite CO2 monitoring project (see here). This project is focused on determining how many geological features are emitting CO2 at any one time. This project may eventually give scientists a better idea of how many land volcanoes are emitting CO2 at any one time. However, it is doubtful the project will properly record ocean CO2 emissions from Earth’s 900,000 deep ocean floor and very difficult to monitor volcanic features. In any case, this project is certainly a step forward towards achieving a better understanding of the climate influence of volcanic CO2 emissions.
The Amount of CO2 and heat infused into Earth’s Oceans by Seafloor Geological Features
About 71% of Earth’s surface is covered by oceans making it a water, not land, planet. For many years now, scientists have contended that the nearly one million geological features present in these vast ocean regions have played a minimal role in heating and chemically charging ocean seawater. Instead of contending that man-made atmospheric CO2 was the root cause of changes to our oceans.
Figure 2: An underwater volcanic erupts in the Pacific Ocean
(Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science—AP).
Recent research has proven that the contentions of these scientists are far from 100% proven. To the contrary, it has become clear that geological heat flow and chemically charged heated fluid flow into our oceans is far more influential than previously thought and possibly the root cause of changes to our oceans. One example is that geological features are warming Earth’s oceans and causing El Nino’s and La Nina’s (see here, here, and here). Warmed seawater is not capable of holding as much CO2 as cold water. So, the geologically warming of seawater indirectly leads to a large amount of CO2 being released from oceans and emitted into the atmosphere. Recent research shows that seafloor geological features also directly emit large amounts of CO2 into our oceans and atmosphere(see here, here, here, and Figure 2).
In summary, the volume of volcanic CO2 being emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere has not been accurately assessed. Numerous research studies and articles conducted/written by qualified scientists concur with this contention (see here, here, and here).
In a geological time frame, Earth has gone through many periods of increased volcanism. These volcanic periods resulted in; major plant and animal extinction events (see here, here, and here), the end of glacial eras (see here) and the dramatic alteration of Earth’s climate (see here).
All indications are that Earth is currently experiencing another period of strong volcanic activity which is acting to infuse CO2 into our atmosphere thereby challenging the validity of the global warming theory.Clearly, it's time to put on hold all environmental action plans based on the cornerstone AGW principle of the global warming theory until additional geological CO2 emission research is conducted.