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CAN THE OCEAN ACIDIFY ITSELF?

Posted on: August 14, 2020

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THIS POST IS A PRESENTATION OF THE EXTENT AND ROLE OF SUBMARINE VOLCANISM ON EARTH IN THE CONTEXT THAT HUMANS ARE LAND CREATURES AND WE HAVE AN ATMOSPHERE BIAS IN OUR VIEW OF CLIMATE CHANGE

RELATED POST:  AN EXCLUSIVE RELIANCE ON FOSSIL FUEL EMISSIONS OVERLOOKS NATURAL CARBON FLOWS. [LINK]  

THE RELEVANT ISSUES IN ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING (AGW)

  1. The theory of AGW climate change is that our use of fossil fuels causes emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere and that the CO2 being released into the atmosphere is not part of the current account of the carbon cycle but a perturbation of the current current account of the carbon cycle with very old carbon that was removed from the atmosphere millions of years ago.
  2. Climate science has determined that about half of the CO2 (50%) thus emitted stays in the atmosphere (the so called airborne fraction) and causes atmospheric CO2 concentration to rise. The value of the retained fraction was derived from the observed rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. The retained fraction is therefore a product of circular reasoning.
  3. The need for circular reasoning to determine the retained fraction derives from an extreme state of uncertainty in natural carbon cycle flows of CO2. These flows, atmosphere to ocean, ocean to atmosphere, atmosphere to photosynthesis, respiration to atmosphere, volcanism to atmosphere, etc are an order of magnitude larger than fossil fuel emissions and they cannot be directly measured. They are inferred from relevant data and therefore the estimates of carbon cycle flow rates contain large uncertainties. These uncertainties, though stated in terms of estimated standard deviation values, are nevertheless ignored when making the mass balance for the retained fraction estimate.
  4. In related posts it is shown that when the uncertainty in carbon cycle flow estimates are taken into account it is not possible to derive an estimate for the net effect of fossil fuel emissions. It is for this reason that the estimates of net flows of fossil fuel emissions to the atmosphere, to the ocean, to photosynthesis, and from respiration are derived with circular reasoning based on observed changes in the atmosphere and the ocean, estimates of changes in the mass of vegetation created by photosynthesis, and an estimate of respiration. Therefore in truth, the net flows of CO2 from fossil fuel emissions to atmosphere and ocean used in climate science are not known but guessed.
  5. Statistical analysis and mass balance measures do not support these flow assumptions. Detrended correlation analysis does not show that atmospheric or oceanic CO2 concentration is responsive to fossil fuel emissions at an annual time scale [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] .
  6. In the case of the proposed effect of fossil fuel emissions on atmospheric CO2 concentration, a further test is carried out using a Monte Carlo simulation of the carbon cycle. No evidence is found net of uncertainty in carbon cycle flows that atmospheric composition is changed by fossil fuel emissions [LINK] .
  7. In the case of the issue of ocean acidification with fossil fuel emissions the attribution fails in both correlation analysis and a mass balance. For example, it is claimed that 30% of the CO2 in fossil fuel emissions dissolve in the ocean and cause acidification but correlation analysis does not show that ocean CO2 content is responsive to fossil fuel emissions at an annual time scale.
  8. In a mass balance analysis of the ocean acidification hypothesis we find that (a) there is not enough carbon dioxide in fossil fuel emissions to explain observed changes in ocean acidification extent, and (b) the ocean contains extensive geological carbon can acidify the ocean to a much greater extent than is possible with relatively minute flows of fossil fuel emissions.
  9. Climate science says that 50% of fossil fuel emissions goes into the atmosphere and stays there so that it can accumulate, 20% goes into photosynthesis, and the remaining 30% goes into the ocean. Thirty percent of 36 gigatons per year is about 11 gigatons per year going into the 14E8 gigatons of ocean meaning that in a hundred years we will be get up to 1ppm CO2 in the ocean. The ocean has access to much greater sources of carbon from nature as we describe below. Only 0.2% of the planet’s carbon is in the crust where we live much of that in the form of carbon life forms such as fish, humans, animals and trees. The rest of the planet’s carbon is under the sea floor in the mantle and core and the regular leakage from there is the crust’s ony source of carbon.
  10. Nature’s geological carbon from the mantle continually discharges into the ocean in sufficient quantity to explain changes in oceanic pH as seen in the bibliography below where large  flows CO2 from hydrothermal vents, mantle plumes, and sub-marine volcanism are described. Fossil fuel emissions and the atmosphere itself are comparatively insignificant in this context.
  11. The fear of ocean acidification in climate science appears to have been derived from paleo data for the PETM event (Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum) 55 million years ago described in related posts [LINK] [LINK] .  The noteworthy part of the PETM ocean acidification event is that it was a natural phenomenon in which the ocean had acidified itself with geological carbon from the mantle. In the ocean acidification argument of climate science, this important detail of the PETM is ignored and its extreme devastation and mass extinction are used as the fear element in the view that ocean acidification is a bad thing and that itherefore fossil fuels are a bad thing. The horror of the PETM caused by geological carbon is then used as an argument against fossil fuel emissions.

We conclude that the insistence of climate science that observed changes in oceanic pH described as ocean acidification are caused by fossil fuel emissions and that they can be attenuated by taking climate action in the form of cutting fossil fuel emissions, is inconsistent with the data. The fear of ocean acidification by fossil fuel emissions is yet another example of the atmosphere bias of climate science.

IN THE CONTEXT OF THE PETM, IT IS NOTED THAT THERE ARE 1,500 ACTIVE VOLCANOES ON LAND AND ABOUT A MILLION UNDER THE OCEANS SUCH THAT MOST OF THE WORLD’S VOLCANIC ACTIVITY IS IN THE OCEAN [LINK]. ADDITIONAL NATURAL SOURCES OF CO2 IN THE OCEAN ARE IDENTIFIED IN THE BIBLIOGRAPHY BELOW. IN THIS CONTEXT, OCEAN ACIDIFICATION CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD IN TERMS OF RELATIVELY INSIGNIFICANT FLOWS OF CARBON DIOXIDE IN FOSSIL FUEL EMISSIONS.

THE RELEVANT BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Hilton, David R., Gary M. McMurtry, and Rob Kreulen. “Evidence for extensive degassing of the Hawaiian mantle plume from helium‐carbon relationships at Kilauea volcano.” Geophysical research letters 24.23 (1997): 3065-3068.  We report helium and carbon isotope and abundance characteristics of solfataras and steam fumaroles located within and around the central summit caldera of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Kilauea fluids are characterized by high‐³He ‘hotspot’ ³He/4He ratios of between 13.7 and 15.9 RA (where RA = air ³He/4He) together with CO2/³He and δ13C(CO2) values of 4.6–8.4 (×109) and −3.4 to −3.6‰, respectively. We combine our measurements with CO2 flux estimates to reconstruct the ³He characteristics of Kilauea parental magma allowing an estimate of the ³He characteristics of the Kilauea mantle source. Derived ³He contents of ∼3.3×10−11 cm³STP/g indicate that Kilauea magma sources are highly depleted in primordial ³He, compared to model estimates of magma sources supplying both spreading ridges and ocean islands. Our results are consistent with the notion that the Hawaiian plume has undergone extensive degassing prior to incorporation into the source region of Kilauea volcano. We suggest that degassing of mantle plumes, at Hawaii and possibly elsewhere, can act as an important control on the range of ³He/4He ratios observed to characterize ocean island basalts (OIBs); in turn, this can affect the relationship between helium isotopes and other tracers of mantle sources. Plume degassing can also explain the puzzling observation that the ³He content of most OIBs is less than that of mid‐ocean ridge basalts (MORBs). [FULL TEXT]
  2. Davies, Geoffrey F. “Mantle plumes, mantle stirring and hotspot chemistry.” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 99.1-2 (1990): 94-109.  Recent advances in understanding plume dynamics allow the role of mantle plumes, the presumed cause of volcanic hotspots and source of the hotspots’ oceanic island basalts (OIBs), to be specified in more detail than hitherto. Their role in sampling a mantle with single-layer convection and an increase in viscosity with depth by two or three orders of magnitude is considered here. Plumes would sample thin tabular regions at the bottom of the mantle. This region would be expected in the assumed mantle model to have properties appropriate to OIB sources, including greater heterogeneity, greater age and less depletion of incompatible elements than the shallow mantle sampled by ocean ridges. All proposed sources of recycled material, including oceanic crust, oceanic sediments and continental lithosphere, can be accommodated in this model. However it is noted that clear evidence for a source with primitive refractory element ratios is still lacking, as is undisputed evidence for differences between MORB source and plume source40Ar/36Ar and129Xe/130Xe ratios.40Ar/36Ar ratios do not exclude nearly complete early degassing of the mantle. High3He/4He ratios in some plumes might come from some remaining less degassed mantle or from the core.
  3. Gill, J. B., et al. “Tuffaceous mud is a volumetrically important volcaniclastic facies of submarine arc volcanism and record of climate change.” Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 19.4 (2018): 1217-1243.  The inorganic portion of tuffaceous mud and mudstone in an oceanic island arc can be mostly volcanic in origin. Consequently, a large volume of submarine volcaniclastic material is as extremely fine‐grained as products of subaerial eruptions (<100 µm). Using results of IODP Expedition 350 in the Izu rear arc, we show that such material can accumulate at high rates (12–20 cm/k.y.) within 13 km of the nearest seamount summit and scores of km behind the volcanic front. The geochemistry of bulk, acid‐leached mud, and its discrete vitriclasts, shows that >75% of the mud is volcanic, and that most of it was derived from proximal rear arc volcanic sources. It faithfully preserves integrated igneous geochemical information about arc evolution in much the same way that terrigenous shales track the evolution of continental crust. In addition, their high sedimentation rate enables high resolution study of climate cycles, including the effects of Pleistocene glaciation on the behavior of the Kuroshio Current in the Shikoku Basin south of Japan. IN PLAIN LANGUAGE: Submarine arc volcanism near subduction zones is both more voluminous, and more finely fragmental, than commonly believed, and this lasts for millions of years. These conclusions result from re‐interpretating the origin of fine‐grained sediments previously thought to be clay‐sized particles from continents (hemi‐pelagic mud). The evidence comes from geochemistry, scanning electron microscopy, X‐ray diffraction, and grain size analysis of the sediments. The muds contain >25% continentally‐sourced material only during Pleistocene glacial stages when it was delivered to IODP drill site U1437 by large meanders of the Kuroshio Current. [FULL TEXT]
  4. Herndon, J. Marvin. “Evidence of variable Earthheat production, global non-anthropogenic climate change, and geoengineered global warming and polar melting.” J Geog Environ Earth Sci Intn 10.1 (2017): 16.  Climate models evaluated by the IPCC are based on the assumptions that: (1) Heat derived from the Sun is constant; (2) Heat derived from within the Earth is constant; and, (3) Anthropogenic contributions to atmospheric warming stem mainly from heat retention by CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Geophysical evidence of variable earthquake activity and geological evidence of variable submarine volcanism presented here indicate that heat added to the oceans is variable. The increasing occurrences of earthquakes of magnitudes ≥6 and ≥7 during 1973-2015 indicate volcanic activity is increasing and therefore Earth-heat, as well as volcanic CO2 additions, is increasing. Moreover, increased heat additions to the ocean act to decrease seawater solubility of CO2, ultimately releasing additional CO2 to the atmosphere. Furthermore, increasing submarine volcanic activity implies increasing ocean acidification, but data are insufficient to make quantitative estimates. The validity of IPCC evaluations and assessments depends critically upon due consideration being given to all processes that potentially affect Earth’s heat balance. In addition to the geological and geophysical processes discussed, the scientific community, including IPCC scientists, has turned a blind eye to ongoing tropospheric geoengineering that in recent years has been occurring on a near-daily, near-global basis. Tropospheric aerosolized particulates, evidenced as coal fly ash, inhibit rainfall, heat the atmosphere, and cause global warming. Evidence obtained from an accidental air-drop release indicates efforts to melt glacial ice and enhance global warming. By ignoring ongoing tropospheric geoengineering, IPCC assessments are compromised, as is the moral authority of the United Nations. {FULL TEXT PDF DOWNLOAD LINK -> HERNDON2017 
  5. White, James DL, John L. Smellie, and David A. Clague. Explosive subaqueous volcanism. Vol. 140. Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union, 2003. Does significant explosivity occur during volcanic eruptions at substantial water depths? And if so, how does it happen and what are its general and focused effects? Recent results have provided compelling new evidence for such eruptions in a variety of unexpected settings, and the scientific community is taking note. Explosive Subaqueous Volcanism explores this uncharted domain, from explosive caldera-forming eruptions to pyroclastic deposits on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and more.
    Features include studies on and interpretations of: • Subaqueous eruption dynamics
    • Explosive eruptions in the modern deep sea • Pumiceous subsea silicic eruptions in the modern seafloor • Subaqueous pumiceous deposits • Economic significance of explosive submarine volcanism Volcanologists, marine geologists, marine biologists, economic geologists, the broader Earth science community, mining engineers, and coastal civil engineers and civil defense planners will find this work an exacting measure of emerging paradigms, current debates, and future research needs.
  6. Blankenship, Donald D., et al. “Active volcanism beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet and implications for ice-sheet stability.” Nature 361.6412 (1993): 526-529.  IT is widely understood that the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) would cause a global sea level rise of 6 m, yet there continues to be considerable debate about the detailed response of this ice sheet to climate changel–3. Because its bed is grounded well below sea level, the stability of the WAIS may depend on geologically controlled conditions at the base which are independent of climate. In particular, heat supplied to the base of the ice sheet could increase basal melting and thereby trigger ice streaming, by providing the water for a lubricating basal layer of till on which ice streams are thought to slide4,5. Ice streams act to protect the reservoir of slowly moving inland ice from exposure to oceanic degradation, thus enhancing ice-sheet stability. Here we present aerogeophysical evidence for active volcanism and associated elevated heat flow beneath the WAIS near the critical region where ice streaming begins. If this heat flow is indeed controlling ice-stream formation, then penetration of ocean waters inland of the thin hot crust of the active portion of the West Antarctic rift system could lead to the disappearance of ice streams, and possibly trigger a collapse of the inland ice reservoir.
  7. Kump, Lee R., and Mark E. Barley. “Increased subaerial volcanism and the rise of atmospheric oxygen 2.5 billion years ago.” Nature 448.7157 (2007): 1033-1036.  The hypothesis that the establishment of a permanently oxygenated atmosphere at the Archaean–Proterozoic transition (2.5 billion years ago) occurred when oxygen-producing cyanobacteria evolved1 is contradicted by biomarker evidence for their presence in rocks 200 million years older2. To sustain vanishingly low oxygen levels despite near-modern rates of oxygen production from 2.7–2.5 billion years ago thus requires that oxygen sinks must have been much larger than they are now. Here we propose that the rise of atmospheric oxygen occurred because the predominant sink for oxygen in the Archaean era—enhanced submarine volcanism—was abruptly and permanently diminished during the Archaean–Proterozoic transition. Observations3,4,5 are consistent with the corollary that subaerial volcanism only became widespread after a major tectonic episode of continental stabilization at the beginning of the Proterozoic. Submarine volcanoes are more reducing than subaerial volcanoes6, so a shift from predominantly submarine to a mix of subaerial and submarine volcanism more similar to that observed today would have reduced the overall sink for oxygen and led to the rise of atmospheric oxygen.

5 Responses to "CAN THE OCEAN ACIDIFY ITSELF?"

By combusting those fossil fuels a corresponding amount of carbon dioxide, CO₂, have been added to the atmosphere. The amount of CO₂ therefore also have to increase in the atmosphere due to the mass balance of CO₂ (mass is not destroyed, no nuclear bomb application).

The total amount of combusted fossil fuel from 1958 to 2015 generated is 1,23*10^15 kg CO₂. That amount corresponds to 156 ppm CO₂ added into the atmosphere if nothing else happens in the meantime (1,23*10^15 kg CO₂ ; molecular weight = 44 kg/kmole ; atmosphere weight = 5,2*10^18 kg ; 29 kg/kmole ==> 1,23/44*10^15/(5,2/29*10^18)*10^6 = 156 ppm CO₂).

If the nature (land and oceans) also added CO₂ to the atmosphere, then the CO₂ concentration would increase by more than 156 ppm.

During those years the Mauna Loa station measured the atmospheric CO₂ concentration to increase by only 86 ppm, from 315 to 401 ppm.

So the nature have not added CO₂, instead it (land and ocean) have picked up 156 – 86 = 70 ppm from the atmosphere.

Even if the nature’s flow of CO₂ into the atmosphere is very big and not fully known, the nature’s flow out from the atmosphere, into the nature is bigger, those 70 ppm.

Also those very big natural CO₂ flows are the main reason for the fluctuating atmospheric CO₂ concentrations seen to follow very close to ocean surface temperature.

Today, as there is a higher CO₂ partial pressure in the atmosphere than prior to the industrial era, there is a lower potential for CO₂ to be released from, and a higher potential for CO₂ to be absorbed into the oceans ==> the contemporary long term net CO₂ flow is from the atmos into the oceans as the system is heading to fullfill the Henry’s law.

There are other signs of that the fossil fuel combustion is the reason for increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, e.g. there is an atmospheric oxygene and 13C isotope concentration going down.

The ocean dissolved inorganic carbon is going up and pH value is also going down as reported from investigations from the late 1950’s to 2000 : “…. estimate for the global ocean uptake flux is consistent with the values of 2.07 +-0.6 Pg C /year …” , see
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Taro_Takahashi/publication/232259896_Global_sea_air_CO2_flux_based_on_climatological_surface_ocean_pCO2_and_seasonal_biological_and_temperature_effects,

and a more resent report, see
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-18203-3.pdf .

And the land is greening, nice.

Kind regards
Anders Rasmusson

Re: “The total amount of combusted fossil fuel from 1958 to 2015 generated is 1,23*10^15 kg CO₂. That amount corresponds to 156 ppm CO₂ added into the atmosphere if nothing else happens in the meantime (1,23*10^15 kg CO₂ ; molecular weight = 44 kg/kmole ; atmosphere weight = 5,2*10^18 kg ; 29 kg/kmole ==> 1,23/44*10^15/(5,2/29*10^18)*10^6 = 156 ppm CO₂).”

What about the climate science position that the airborne fraction is 50%?
please see
https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/12/29/climate-scientist-explains-the-carbon-budget/

Chaamjamal : ”What about the climate science position that the airborne fraction is 50%? …. please see …..”

Comments :

Detrending, Monte Carlo or other statistics operations have to be done with the mass balance in mind otherwise the physics is stepsided.

By the globally measured mass flow of combusted fossil fuels and the analyzed (e.g. at Mauna Loa) atmospheric CO₂ concentration, we are able to make a complete atmospheric CO₂ mass balance.

The accuracy in those measurements and analysis, together with the CO₂ mass balance, which always is fulfilled, we have enough information to calculate the net Natural flow as per :

Inlets + Produced = Outlets + Accumulated

“Inlets” is represented by Natural (from land & oceans) mass flow and Anthropogenic mass flow into the atmosphere.

“Outlets” is represented by Natural (to land & oceans) mass flow and Anthropogenic (~0) mass flow out from the atmosphere.

“Produced” is represented by reactions producing (or consuming) CO₂ in the atmosphere (e.g. the reaction of atmospheric methane to CO₂), giving a very small additional CO₂ mass flow and therefore “Produced” can be put to zero.

”Accumulated” is represented by the increased (or decreased) mass of CO₂ in the atmosphere and is calculated from CO₂ concentration measurements at Mauna Loa and/or elsewhere.

So, for the atmospheric CO₂ mass balance we’ll have after rearrangement :

Outlets (to land&oceans) – Inlets (from land&oceans) = Anthropogenic – Accumulated (+ Produced=0)

During the industrial period the Anthropogenic mass CO₂ flow have been bigger than the Accumulated mass, hence the right part of the equation is bigger than zero.

Then also the left part, Outlets to Nature – Inlets from Nature, is bigger than zero, hence there have been a net mass of CO₂ transferred from the atmosphere to the Nature during the period.

With figures from 1958 to 2015 :

The measured atmospheric CO₂ concentration has increased (Accumulated) from 315 ppmv to 401 ppmv = 86 ppmv corresponding to 678 Gton CO₂ (molecular weight = 44 kg/kmole; atmos weight = 5,2*10^18 kg ; molecular weight = 29 kg/kmole, giving : 86*44/29*10^-6*5,2*10^18 = 678 Gton CO₂).

In the meantime the total combusted fossil fuel contributed with 1232 Gton CO₂ flowing into the atmosphere.

Those figures can be put into the material balance equation above as :

Outlets (to Nature) – Inlets (from Nature) = Anthropogenic – Accumulated = 1232 – 678 = 554 Gton CO₂.

All according to the atmospheric CO₂ mass balance, net 554 Gton CO₂ (corresponding to 70 ppmv) have been transferred from the atmosphere to the Nature which has been a net sink during the period.

The airborne fraction is from the measured figures for that period = 678/1232 = 0,55.

All that without dealing with every single very big and uncertain Natural flows into and out of the atmosphere.

Assume that there is 10 % uncertainty in the fossil fuel flow and 0,5 % for the analyzed atmospheric CO₂ concentration (one magnitude of order too high due to that the Mauna Loa station reports that the accuracy is better than 0,2 ppmv, https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/about/co2_measurements.html ).

Also assume 1 % inaccuracy for the mass of the atmosphere. Putting that into the atmospheric CO₂ mass balance then at least :

Outlets (to Nature) – Inlets (from Nature) = Anthropogenic – Accumulated = 1232*0,9 – (401*1,005-315*0,995)*44/29*10^-6*5,2*1,01*10^18 = 1109 – 717 = 392 Gton CO₂ (50 ppmv) CO₂ have been transferred from the atmosphere to the Nature from 1958 to 2015.

Then the airborne fraction instead is = 717/1109 = 0,65.

Or :

= 1232*1,1-(401*0,995-315*1,005)*44/29*10^-6*5,2*0,99*10^18 = 1355 – 644 = 711 Gton CO₂ (90 ppmv) CO₂ have been transferred from the atmosphere to the Nature from 1958 to 2015.

Then the airborne fraction is = 644/1355 = 0,48.

The increased atmospheric CO₂ concentration enhance the potential for CO₂ absorption into the cold oceans. In the same way the warm oceans have got a decreased potential for outgassing of CO₂, i.e. there have been a net increased potential for CO₂ transfer from atmosphere to the oceans, compared to the pre industrial circumstances (despite a minor ocean surface temperature increase which reduce the net flow to the oceans, 10 to 20 ppmv / K).

Also the land greening has initially increased the CO₂ uptake from the atmosphere.

See also references as in the comment above, May 9, 2021 at 6:49 pm .

Kind regards
Anders Rasmusson

Thank you for your detailed respinse.We see things differently I guess.

Chaamjamal, thank you, it’s my pleasure trying to present the circumstances in a way I would have done if still in operation as an chemical process engineer, now retired and with no connections to any company or organizations at all.

Kind regards
Anders Rasmusson

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