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Reshaping the Earth - The New Yorker


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Meanwhile, the attention on Bárður’s bulge has prompted a discussion of the relationship between volcanoes, melting glaciers, and climate change. As a glacier recedes, its enormous mass is removed from the land. Relieved of that load, the land rebounds slightly and the pressure underground is reduced, enabling more magma to accumulate; eventually, some of that magma will rise and erupt through the Earth’s surface. In other words, global warming could alter the shape of the planet. “If you deglaciate Iceland, volcanism in Iceland should increase,” Jerry Mitrovica, a professor of geophysics at Harvard, said. “We’re moving the hand from the door and allowing the door to swing open.”

"Global warming could alter the shape of the planet."

This seems so obvious now that they clearly explained why. Yikes.

The earth is more interconnected than people realize:

The melting of glaciers will not only affect volcanoes on land. Eighty per cent of Earth’s volcanoes are under the ocean. As melting causes the sea level to rise, the added weight will increase pressure on the ocean floor, which may suppress eruptions from deep-sea volcanoes. This theory is under investigation by two Harvard scientists—Charlie Langmuir, a geochemist, and Peter Huybers, a climatologist—working from a ship a few hundred miles off the coast of Washington State. If they can prove their hypothesis, Langmuir told me, it will establish a connection “between big changes in climate at Earth’s surface, ridge volcanism, the carbon cycle, and the entire topographic fabric of the sea floor.” Huybers added that melting ice sheets may also change the earth’s gravitational field, affecting where and how much the sea level will rise.

“Earth is more interconnected than is often realized,” he said.

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