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Have volcanoes stabilized the temperatures on the Earth’s surface?

London: A new study has found that volcanoes were responsible for stabilizing Earth’s surface temperatures and acted as a safety valve for Earth’s long-term climate. The results of the study were published in the journal “Nature Geoscience”.

Scientists at the University of Southampton have discovered that vast chains of volcanoes were both responsible for the emission and then removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) over geological time. The researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Sydney, the Australian National University (ANU), the University of Ottawa and the University of Leeds, explored the combined impact of the processes on Solid earth, oceans and atmosphere over the past 400 million years.

The natural decomposition and dissolution of rocks on the Earth’s surface is called chemical weathering. This is extremely important because the weathering products (elements like calcium and magnesium) are flushed through rivers to the oceans, where they form minerals that trap CO2. This feedback mechanism regulates atmospheric CO2 levels, and in turn the global climate, over geological time.

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“In this regard, the weathering of the Earth’s surface serves as a geological thermostat,” said lead author Dr Tom Gernon, associate professor of earth sciences at the University of Southampton and fellow of the Turing Institute. .

“But the underlying controls have proven difficult to determine due to the complexity of the Earth system,” added Dr Gernon.

Understanding the relative influence of specific processes within the response of the Earth system has therefore been an intractable problem. To elucidate the complexity, the team built a new “Earth Network”, incorporating machine learning algorithms and plate tectonics reconstructions. This allowed them to identify the dominant interactions within the Earth system and their evolution over time.


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