Above-average melting of the Arctic Sea Ice in the years 2007, 2012, and 2015 is here contended to be directly related to increased heat and chemically charged fluid flow from the 3,500-mile long seafloor Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault System and not atmospheric global warming.
This contention is backed by large amounts reliable data and research from varying sources; earthquake frequency and magnitude data, atmospheric methane concentration maps, and most importantly just released research that proves the Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault System (Figure 1) acts as a giant seawater heating and circulating system. In a broader sense the notion that deep ocean seafloor geological forces can influence or drive above average Polar Ice Cap melting rates fits perfectly into the basic tenets of the Plate Climatology Theory.
Details substantiating these contentions are as follows.
Let’s begin by discussing the most telling, game changing, and newest piece of information. A study by the Helmholtz Centre for Polar Marine Research which proves that the Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault trend is a giant seawater circulating system that captures, super-heats, chemically charges, and then expulses massive volumes of this seawater into the overlying Arctic Ocean (see here and quote below).
“Until now, scientists thought that serpentinite only forms near fault zones and near the surface. “Our data now suggest that water circulates through extensive areas of the young oceanic lithosphere and is bound in the rock. This releases heat and methane, for example, to a degree not previously foreseen,” says Vera Schlindwein.”
“Oceanographers are interested in heat influx and trace gasses in the water column in such areas, which were previously thought to be non-volcanic and “cold”. Biologists are interested in the increased outflow of methane and sulfide on the sea floor that is to be expected in many areas and that represents an important basis of life for deep-sea organisms.”
This realization is game changing because it verifies that significant volumes of geologically heated seawater are in fact being pumped onto the base of the Arctic Sea Ice, especially directly above the fault trend. This contradicts traditional / consensus assumptions that deep ocean seafloor geological fluid emission volumes are insignificant, and therefore not worthy of consideration when constructing Arctic Sea Ice Melt computer models. Quite obviously climate scientists now need to properly integrate the effect of geological forces into all future Arctic Sea ice computer models. Importantly the existence of giant deep ocean fault related seawater circulating systems was postulated three years ago in previous Climate Change Dispatch articles (see here, here, and here).
Next, let’s discuss how frequently and for what duration the giant Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault Circulating System is active. Is it always active or just once in awhile? Data is sparse however it is likely that small segments are always active, while larger segments are only active for short time periods. For instance, during the last 12 months, a 2,000-mile portion of the system has experienced 43 earthquakes (Figure 1) and pulsed a huge concentration of methane gas into the atmosphere (Figure 2). The earthquake activity and atmospheric methane pulse strongly indicate that this large segment of the circulating system has been, and still is actively emitting significant amounts of sea ice melting and super-heated seawater into the Arctic Ocean.
It works like this.
Past research studies, most notably by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, have proved that earthquake activity along the Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault System is associated with significant amounts of volcanic activity such as deep ocean seafloor; lava flows, hydrothermal vents (chemical emitting hot springs), and underwater volcanoes (see here and quote below).
“A major part of Earth’s volcanism happens at the so-called mid-ocean ridges and, therefore, completely undetected on the seafloor. There, the continental plates drift apart; liquid magma intrudes into the gap and constantly forms new seafloor through countless volcanic eruptions. Accompanied by smaller earthquakes, which go unregistered on land, lava flows onto the seafloor. These unspectacular eruptions usually last for only a few days or weeks.”
Additional confirmation that this giant deep ocean geological heat emitting circulating system exists and is currently active comes from another data source, the National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration methane reading satellites (Figure 2). Granted that the Figure 2 map is very difficult to read and understand, however, it is well worth the time to do so as the authors of the Arctic News blog did in their recent posting (see here). The satellite readings clearly show the presence of a long and linear high concentration methane anomaly in the atmosphere directly above the entire fault trend (green highlighted line) on an active earthquake day July 16, 2016.
This linear methane trend is the result of earthquake-induced seawater heat pulse along the fault that warms methane containing rock layers adjacent to the fault. The warmed water acts to melt the frozen methane and then release it into the open fault fractures. The methane bubbles move upward along the fractures into the overlying ocean and then vertically upward into the atmosphere.
Next, Iceland Volcanic activity has greatly increased during the last twelve months. Iceland lies at the southern end of the Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault System and is the only land-based portion of the fault. Volcanic activity here is monitored, however, the remaining deep ocean portions of the fault system are poorly monitored. Increased volcanic activity on Iceland is here contended to be an excellent visual confirmation that a large segment of the Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault System is currently active.
Finally, let’s compare Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent vs. periods of increased geological activity along the Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault System (Figure 3). This graph illustrates that two time periods of very high melt rate stand out, 2007 and 2012. Research by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute as mentioned above clearly shows that a Mid-Arctic Rift / Fault System was volcanically active in the 2007 time frame and other research show that the system was also earthquake active in the 2012 time frame (see here).
In conclusion, worldwide atmospheric temperatures and CO2 concentrations have risen at modest and constant rates for many years at what can be characterized as normal post ice age values. Arctic Sea Ice Melting rates during the 1978 to 2005 time period correlated well with a post ice age warming earth, however starting in 2006 things changed. This disconnect is here explained as convincing evidence that another natural force is at work during this time period, specifically Geological Sea Ice Melting Forces.
James Edward Kamis is a Geologist and AAPG member of 42 years with a B.S. and M.S. in geology who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. More than 11 years of research / observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate. The Plate Climatology Theory (plateclimatology.com) was recently presented at the annual 2016 American Metrological Society Conference in New Orleans, LA. (see here)