Great Earthquakes May Be the Cause of the Arctic’s Rapid Warming

Aleutian Islands

Aleutian Islands are an archipelago comprising dozens of islands with 40 active and 17 dormant volcanoes.

A researcher from MIPT has proposed a new explanation for the Arctic’s rapid warming. In his recent paper in Geosciences, he suggests that the warming could have been triggered by a series of great earthquakes.

Global warming is one of the pressing issues faced by civilization. It is widely believed to be caused by human activity, which increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, this view does not explain why temperatures sometimes rise fairly abruptly.

In the Arctic, one of the factors driving climate warming is the release of methane from permafrost and metastable gas hydrates in the shelf zone. Since researchers began to monitor temperatures in the Arctic, the region has seen two periods of abrupt warming: first in the 1920s and ’30s, and then beginning in 1980 and continuing to this day.

Leopold Lobkovsky, who authored the study reported in this story, is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the head of the MIPT Laboratory for Geophysical Research of the Arctic and Continental Margins of the World Ocean. In his paper, the scientist hypothesized that the unexplained abrupt temperature changes could have been triggered by geodynamic factors. Specifically, he pointed to a series of great earthquakes in the Aleutian Arc, which is the closest seismically active area to the Arctic.

Arctic Air Temperature Anomaly Variation

Arctic air temperature anomaly variation since 1900. The thick red lines indicate two phases of abrupt warming. Data compiled by Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. Credit: Leopold Lobkovsky/Geosciences

To test his hypothesis, Lobkovsky had to answer three questions. First, did the dates of the great earthquakes coincide with temperature jumps? Second, what is the mechanism that enables the lithospheric disturbances to propagate over more than 2,000 kilometers from the Aleutian Islands to the Arctic shelf region? Third, how do these disturbances intensify methane emissions?

The answer to the first question came from historical data analysis. It turned out that the Aleutian Arc was indeed the site of two series of great earthquakes in the 20th century (more details below the text). Each of them preceded an abrupt rise in temperature by about 15 to 20 years.

It took a model of lithospheric excitation dynamics to answer the second question. The model used by the researcher describes the propagation of so-called tectonic waves and predicts that they should travel at about 100 kilometers per year. This agrees with the delay between each of the great earthquake series and the subsequent temperature hike, as it took the disturbances 15 to 20 years to get transmitted over 2,000 kilometers.

To answer the third question, the researcher proposed the following explanation: The deformation waves arriving in the shelf zone cause minor additional stresses in the lithosphere, which are sufficient to disrupt the internal structure of the metastable gas hydrates and permafrost storing captured methane. This releases methane into the water of the shelf and atmosphere, leading to climate warming in the region due to the greenhouse effect.

“There is a clear correlation between the great earthquakes in the Aleutian Arc and the phases of climate warming. A mechanism exists for physically transmitting the stresses in the lithosphere at the appropriate velocities. And these added stresses are capable of destroying metastable gas hydrates and permafrost, releasing methane. Each of the three components in this scheme is logical and lends itself to mathematical and physical explanation. Importantly, it explains a known fact — the abrupt rise in temperature anomalies in the Arctic — which remained unaccounted for by the previous models,” Lobkovsky commented.

According to the researcher, his model will benefit from discussion and will likely be improved, and there is much to be done in order to confirm or rule out the proposed mechanism.

Reference: “Seismogenic-Triggering Mechanism of Gas Emission Activizations on the Arctic Shelf and Associated Phases of Abrupt Warming” by Leopold Lobkovsky, 29 October 2020, Geosciences.
DOI: 10.3390/geosciences10110428

The research reported in this story was carried out at MIPT with the support of the Russian Science Foundation, grant No. 20-17-00140.

Two great earthquake series. The first one started with a magnitude 8 earthquake in 1899 in the eastern part of the Aleutian Arc, followed by two more great earthquakes in the western part of the islands, with magnitudes of 8.3 and 8.4. The second series began with an 8.6 magnitude earthquake in 1957, followed by the 9.3 magnitude 1964 Alaskan earthquake. The following year, an 8.7 magnitude earthquake shook the western part of the arc. Each of these devastating seismic events had underground sources spanning hundreds of kilometers.

8 Comments on "Great Earthquakes May Be the Cause of the Arctic’s Rapid Warming"

  1. This could potentially explain why the arctic is warming so much faster than the planet as a whole. Amazing correlation shown in the graph!

  2. Hello there sir or madam this is William Casey Floyd hyre in Mobile Alabama I’m an recent graduate student from the University of South Alabama Im transferring into my at the University of mobile exit 13 i65 I just entered my advice new entry data level mathematics system of microheleaxmechanics with the University of mobile

    This video is a sign of what is to come time after time! All of you better read what you face at because in 2023 the North Pole will not have much ice and snow if any during Spring, Summer and Fall months! And guess what that means everybody? What’s the answer NASA? How about all of you smart college folks that are suppose to know everything and everyone else out there, what does not much ice and snow during Spring, Summer and Fall mean in the North Pole? ………… I’m waiting for the answer? …………………………
    IT MEANS THE ICE AGE IS OVER AND MOTHER NATURE WILL REPROGRAM IT’S NEW FOUND NATURAL RESOURCES TO ACT ACCORDINGLY! What this video shows is Mother Nature reacting today to what molecule trash we pump up into our room that we all live in, this enclosed room we call Earth, this bubble room we all live in called an atmosphere, this room that holds whatever heat and polluted molecules we put up into it and then mixes all that heat and polluted molecules we humans put into our bubble room atmosphere with all the things that Mother Nature can do to let all life live in this atmospheric bubble that surrounds this flying rock we live on that we call Earth, our beautiful, magnificent, amazing paradise that all life gets to enjoy! And what you see is what you get from all the things you do! What weather patterns that were are no more! What you see is what you get! All hell is going to break loose worldwide as Mother Nature’s bubble we live in is going to go through some very ugly, disastrous, readly turns as it hobbles it’s way into new horizons Mother Nature has never seen which eventually will within about 20 years will result in Mother Nature’s cloud and rain making apperatise shutting down because pollution and heat shut down Mother Nature’s natural forces that gave Earth the possibility to create the only thing that gave Earth the ability to have life on Earth and that is clouds and rain. Take away the rain and you have no trees and vegetation. Take away trees and vegetation and you have no clouds. Take away the clouds and you have no rain and no other way to shade the Earth from the deadly hot rays of the Sun that CAN evaporate all water and moisture in the atmosphere of any planet if the Sun’s hot rays are not blocked in some way from the Sun. Look at our deserts and look at Mars, Venus and every other rock floating in space around Suns! None of them have an atmospheric bubble like Earth! Preserve that atmospheric bubble or you will all DIE!
    Folks, we can end global warming in 1-3 months simply by not allowing anyone to fly rockets of any kind anymore and not fly jet engine airplanes anymore. We have to go back to flying propeller airplanes or use other means of transportation. Then we all have to stop using combustion engine vehicles and start using electric power vehicles or other means of transportation. Do these things and the global temperature will come down a lot even if we do nothing else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This will cause Mother Nature to be able to provide a really nice planet to live on as Mother Nature would then have a different bunch of hot and cold molecules and less pollution in the bubble we live in and a lot more of them because we will be no longer burning/heating and polluting our Mother Nature’s cloud and rain making system which will create massive clouds and rain worldwide which will lead to a whole new Earth that you can live on that can be very very very beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do what I say or lose it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I explain it all! Read the Facebook Page to read about what it is that you are about to face!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAKE UP OR DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I promise to quit flying my rocket as one of my New Years resolutions! That should also make Emperor Ming very happy.


  4. While the slope of the red trend lines are steeper than for the globe as an average, the intervals for the warming period are pretty much the same as everywhere else. Notably, the first trend line could be extrapolated back to 1900 without changing the slope much; similarly, the second trend line could be extrapolated back to about 1965 without much change. That is also true for global temperatures, not just the Arctic. So, the thesis requires that volcanic activity in a small percentage of the Earth be applicable to the entire globe, and the correlation between the cause and effect is broken.

  5. I look forward to see alex jones bringing up this argument, nice.
    Jokes aside. Im glad we can see real science despite the possibility of certain people decontextualizing this for their own bias, to push a certain idea.
    Note: Science and news must be for the truth and not to change/control ones opinion (you don’t see titles like this everyday); Also, freedom of speech for everyone no matter what! So yeah, even alex jones must have his word.

    • A thesis, with supporting facts, should stand on its own without regard to who proposes it. Everyone can be wrong (It’s called being human.), so even prestigious authorities make mistakes!

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.