Thursday, July 24, 2008

Study: Typhoons bury tons of carbon in the oceans

Well there you go. (old joke*)
From PhysOrg:
A single typhoon in Taiwan buries as much carbon in the ocean -- in the form of sediment -- as all the other rains in that country all year long combined. That's the finding of an Ohio State University study published in a recent issue of the journal Geology....

...They study two types of weathering: physical and chemical. Physical weathering happens when organic matter containing carbon adheres to soil that is washed into the ocean and buried.

Chemical weathering happens when silicate rock on the mountainside is exposed to carbon dioxide and water, and the rock disintegrates. The carbon washes out to sea, where it eventually forms calcium carbonate and gets deposited on the ocean floor.

If the carbon gets buried in the ocean, Carey explained, it eventually becomes part of sedimentary rock, and doesn't return to the atmosphere for hundreds of millions of years.

Though the carbon buried in the ocean by storms won't solve global warming, knowing how much carbon is buried offshore of mountainous islands such as Taiwan could help scientists make better estimates of how much carbon is in the atmosphere -- and help them decipher its effect on global climate change....MORE

*Three retired businessmen were tanning on a Miami Beach and swapping stories. “ ahh”, the first guy sighed, “thirty years of toiling, barely eking out a living and then suddenly one dark night, my frock manufacturing business burned to the ground. Too old and tired to start over, I took the insurance money and retired down here.”

“Same thing as me!” The second guy piped. “But I owned a car parts store in Toledo.”

The third guy then told his story. “I had a seafood packing company in Mississippi. Hurricane Camille tore it to pieces. I took the insurance money and headed to sunny Florida”.

Simultaneously the first two guys, with totally bewildered looks, turned to one another and asked,
"How do you start a hurricane?"