Global warming and earthquakes is one of the most talked about topics in the environmentalists arena. Climatologists and geologists have been pushing the panic button repeatedly to warn the people around the world of the hazardous effects of global warming. Natural catastrophes like tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, storms, landslides and earthquakes can all be attributed to the melting glaciers of the North and South poles.
Global Warming and Earthquakes: The Connection
Earthquakes occur when the tectonic plates (rocky slabs of the Earths crust) move against each other or slide over each other. In some parts of the world, mostly those covered with ice, the pressure has always been building in the Earths crust (a natural phenomenon) and the tectonic plates have been waiting for the freedom to move against each other. The cover of ice suppresses the movement of these plates. As soon as the pressure exerted by these layers of ice is released, the tectonic plates are free to move. Once the pressure is released, the patch of Earths crust covered under the ice rebounds, and this leads to propagation of shock waves in the Earths crust and tremors can be felt in the vicinity where the rebound occurred. These earthquakes can have a reading of 7.2 or more on the Richter scale.
Aerial and Ground Photography for Predictions
Scientists and geologists have been using ground and aerial photography to understand the connection between melting glaciers and earthquakes. Satellites orbiting the earth provide an estimate of how much ice has been lost in a particular area and the instability that the melting of ice might have caused. It was found that the instability caused due to melting glaciers in Greenland was the root cause of tremors and shocks initiated and felt in the area.
Tsunamis: Earthquakes in the Oceans
Tsunamis basically refer to quakes in the land under the seas and oceans. The sheets of ice move in a stick-slip pattern. This particular pattern refers to the phenomenon where in a layer of ice becomes stuck to the layer of ice next to it and huge pressures come into picture. The pressure keeps on mounting along the edges until the pressure forces one layer of ice to slip over or under the adjacent layer of ice. With this loss in stability and slipping of the tectonic plates over each other, huge waves are formed in the water, which further take the form of a Tsunami and cause massive destruction in the form of gigantic title waves. The movement of glaciers gains momentum as they melt and this leads to severe earthquakes. Currently, scientists expect a few more earthquakes from the Whillans Ice Stream.
There have been several earthquakes in the recent past in Antarctica and various places in the Arctic Circle that can be traced to the melting glaciers, but most of these earthquakes have gone unnoticed. With St. Elias Earthquake in Alaska and the Sichuan Earthquake in China forming perfect examples of the dark side of global warming, these theories have been virtually proven.