Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tsunami link to climate change still under dispute

The September 30 2009 tsunami which devastated three Pacific island countries and caused great fear and panic is possibly linked to climate change according to some international scientists-- but the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) of the United Nations says there is no verified link between seismic activities and weather patterns. Secretary General of WMO Michel Jarraud told Environment Weekly today that although the frequencies of earthquakes and tsunamis are notable, the link is not defined. "There is no scientific link between the two, as far as we know, there is no significant link between earthquakes and climate change."

Jarraud says that there are aspects of climate change that could affect how tsunami impact in the region.
"What happens though is that with sea level rise as a result of climate change, the impact of tsunami will be bigger, because the sea level is higher so the tsunami will penetrate deeper over land."
But the Director of Germanwatch, a climate and development organisation says that the link can be considered.

Christopher Bals said today: "I think there are no scientifically based indications that the tsunamis or earthquakes so far are connected to climate change. There is an emerging debate about this, but so far there is no evidence that this is really happening."
Although very little research is published on the link between earthquakes and climate change, some scientists are convinced that it is all interrelated.
Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets and glaciers are melting as well as sliding and according to Robert Correll, the Chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment there is more to come. He says that Greenland has seen a massive acceleration of the speed at which glaciers are sliding into the ocean, and each slide can cause an "ice" quake occurring several times a year. Celsias, a publication on climate change notes the trend is causing changes, including currents from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans feeding into the Arctic Circle and warming the waters even more. A link between climate change and shifts in the crust is not a new concept according to Celsias.
Bill McGuire of University College London says: "The whole earth is an interactive system. You don't need huge changes to trigger responses from the crust."
McGuire and other scientists studied the history of climate changes associated with the end of the last ice age and the retreat of glaciers, approximately 18,000 years ago.
McGuire explained that when ice melts, the earth's crust "bounces" up again,triggering earthquakes that then set off landslides and tsunamis. In a published Guardian report McGuire wrote that the enormous mass of water pouring into ocean basins from retreating ice sheets is enough to overload and bend the underlying crust of the continental islands and island chains, such as Sumatra and Samoa, where more than 60 percent of the world's active volcanoes are located.
Bals of Germanwatch says that there is merit to the argument. "There is some merit of enormous weight in Himalayas and other regions that this can affect earthquakes, but so far the scientific knowledge about
this is that yes, there is a debate but it is not proven."-- Cherelle Jackson

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