Anthony Watts has a new article on his blog today (archived here). It's about a paper in Nature about some research estimating the amount of CO2 released by tectonic activity, I suppose you'd call it. When mountains are formed and fresh rock is exposed the scientists postulated that there was more chemical reactions going on than previously thought, releasing CO2. The work was done by Mark A. Torres, A. Joshua West & Gaojun Li.
As usual, Anthony didn't link to the paper or press release itself but it wasn't hard to find either. The paper has a dry title: Sulphide oxidation and carbonate dissolution as a source of CO2 over geological timescales.
Some science media outlets jazzed up the research up with a catchy headline, which Anthony borrowed (and no sign of a "claim"):
The Goldilocks principle: New hypothesis explains earth's continued habitability
|Goldilocks & the 3 bears minus Goldilocks.|
Robert Southey 1837
Anyway, the scientists worked out that over the Cenozoic era, marine analysis suggests there was extensive weathering of silicates when mountains were popping up all over the world, but there wasn't enough CO2 released from volcanic eruptions to balance the books. They reckoned that "The resulting imbalance would have depleted the atmosphere of all CO2 within a few million years7."
So they put on their thinking caps and had a close look at some mountains in Peru. They figured that there was CO2 being released from fresh rock exposed during tectonic activity. The way I read their research, what they are saying is that when there's a lot of tectonic activity there was both more CO2 absorbed by weathering as well as more CO2 released by chemical reactions.
This is all on geological time scales, needless to say. We're not talking in time frames of decades - this is the slow carbon cycle over thousands to millions of years. That's for the CO2 absorption by silicate weathering and the release by chemical activity. If volcanoes are big enough they can affect CO2 on much shorter time frames.
From the University of Southern California:
Torres and West studied rocks taken from the Andes mountain range in Peru and found that weathering processes affecting rocks released far more carbon than previously estimated, which motivated them to consider the global implications of CO2 release during mountain formation. ...
...Like many other large mountain ranges, such as the great Himalayas, the Andes began to form during the Cenozoic period, which began about 60 million years ago and happened to coincide with a major perturbation in the cycling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Using marine records of the long-term carbon cycle, Torres, West and Li reconstructed the balance between CO2 release and uptake caused by the uplift of large mountain ranges and found that the release of CO2 release by rock weathering may have played a large, but thus far unrecognized, role in regulating the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last roughly 60 million years.
(If you go to the USC website, I suggest use Firefox or IE, not Chrome. It's not Chrome-friendly. But the USC has the full press release. Other sites have only got a short version.)
Here's a link to one of NASA's Earth Observatory articles - on the slow carbon cycle and more.
From the WUWT comments
Anthony didn't have anything to add to his copied press release. The rabble, they are another story. Get a load of this comment from devijvers, who is crying out for someone to call Poe when s/he strums a variation on the "scientists don't know nuffin'" theme:
March 20, 2014 at 1:10 am
The CO2 cycle:
Ocean plant life syncs to the bottom, becomes part of the sediment and eventually becomes rock. This is how CO2 is sequestered in rock.The tectonic conveyor belt slowly takes the ocean floor to the subduction zones, melting the rock by means of magma.The CO2 now mixed in magma is ejected by volcanoes. Wheatering of the newly formed rocks releases CO2.
This article is pure nonsense. More CO2 needs to be released by the wheatering than is used for the wheatering, otherwise we would have ran out long time ago. Where did these people get their degrees?
Matthijs seems to think we could end up like Venus in the blink of an eye - or maybe like Mars and says:
March 20, 2014 at 1:16 am
Another one that claims nature is in balance.
It is not.
It is a chaotic system that will flow from state to state depending on events that occur.
No way of telling what the next state is.
AleaJactaEst has it all figured out. Scientists can pack up and go home:
March 20, 2014 at 1:17 am
…”While human-made atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are currently driving significant changes in the Earth’s climate….” and what would those be then?
The Earth has and will continue to go through several oxidising and reducing cycles (Devonian Permian e.g.) base solely on land mass accretion and subduction whose engine is the deep mantle plumes, the heat of which is derived from radioactive decay. The rest of our surface cycles are simply reactions, not balances, to the aforementioned cycles.
Paul Pierett calls on scientists to lend authority to his argument that scientists don't know nuffin' - (yeah, he's a bit mixed up) - but he's yours, most sincerely, if you'll take him:
March 20, 2014 at 1:29 am
I think they are close but have the cart before the horse. They still blame man. Too, not too many look beyond man for command and control of CO2 levels and there is the fail point.
Let’s begin with Milankovitch Cycles and Sunspot Cycles for the cause in geological cycles. From there gain and understanding of Topography shifts North and South of the Equator As the Earth emerges from and Ice Age and Returns again with mini-ice ages in the middle.
The Glaciers, Polar Ice Caps store the excess CO2 and releases them in the Ocean exchange as the Earth warms up and Topography expands and is allowed to expand. For example, when Lord Monckton testified before Congress a couple of years ago, the woman tree ring scientist testified that the tree line in the Sierra was higher for tree stumps were at a much higher elevation than at the present tree line. Thus, less Glaciers and Polar Ice mass released more CO2 to the Oceans and more provided for Topography at higher elevations and Latitudes.
As for the Pyrite, adjustments were made as much for the Volcanoes over time which we saw with Mt. Pinatubo.
Talking of being mixed up. A prize for anyone who can figure out what is going on in Mike Alger's little brain when he says:
March 20, 2014 at 1:39 am
Once again there is an overriding paradigm assumption that it is CO2 that is the main driver of the climatic system throughout geologic history…an assumption that I think is flawed in its very core. Even the warmists admit that the direct contribution of another doubling of CO2 is probably at most 1degree C…it’s the feedbacks that cause the catastrophic warming they are so worried about. But the feedbacks aren’t caused directly by CO2, they are caused by the slight warming the CO2 allegedly causes. So why focus on what controls the CO2 throughout geologic history? Instead focus on what causes the warming and cooling, which probably has much more to do with CO2 concentrations than the other way around.
My oh my, and I've hardly skipped over any comments. Dunning and Kruger would have a field day at WUWT today. Okay, just one more. This time from our good friend, Leo Geiger, who is no doubt destined for the WUWT bin sooner rather than later:
Leo Geiger says:
March 20, 2014 at 3:36 am
I wonder what the criteria is for deciding whether or not published research needs to be introduced here with the word “Claim:” added as a prefix in the title? This one avoids that particular characterization.
Mark A. Torres, A. Joshua West & Gaojun Li. "Sulphide oxidation and carbonate dissolution as a source of CO2 over geological timescales." Nature 507, 346–349 (20 March 2014) doi:10.1038/nature13030