The Rock Cycle Influences Climate
The Rock Cycle Influences Climate (and Other Global Changes) Over a Long Timescales!
Plate tectonics: Plate tectonics is responsible for the positions of continents which can have a large effect on regional and global climates.
- When all continents come together to forms supercontinents, the amount of coastal area is decreased and the amount of dry continental interiors is increased.
- If continents are moved to high latitudes, more ice sheets form and sea level falls.
- Growth of mountain ranges affects atmospheric circulation patterns and the number of alpine glaciers.
- Change in the rate of tectonic activity causes changes in the amount of volcanism. More volcanism means more sulfuric acid/ash blocking solar radiation
- Increased sea floor spreading causes sea level rise since newly formed ocean crust will "float" higher on the mantle decreasing the volume of ocean basins.
Rate of limestone production: Marine limestone sequesters carbon, decreasing the amount in seawater, and ultimately decreasing the amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Rate of fossil fuel production: Fossil fuels sequester carbon deep underground (until they are extracted and burned, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere).
Evolution of new species: Organisms affect the composition of the atmosphere, so new species can have a new effect on the amount of greenhouse gases. For instance, about 3.5 billion years ago stromatolites (blue-green algae) oxygenated the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and extensive swamps during the Pennsylvanian period trapped carbon.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Spring 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist
focuses on the ocean, including articles on polar research, coral reefs, ocean acidification, and climate. Includes a gorgeous full color poster!
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