Are the earthquakes in Japan somehow indirectly caused by global warming like every other disaster?

3 Answers

  • qris
    Lv 5
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    No and yes. First the no. Plate tectonics are pretty basic, the plates move at a certain speed and this movement causes friction, the friction causes earthquakes. The plates are not moved by any temperature change theoretically. However plate movement in the past specific to ocean plates increased when the global environmental temperature changed. is this a causation of temperature change or an effect is difficult to ascertain, I suspect we will see that temperature imbalance, whether an increase or decrease, could be impacted by plate movement or lack of plate movement. They do know that volcanic release can have a cooling effect on world temperature, and volcanic release has a correlative relationship to plate movement. Instead of being an effect of climate change, plate tectonics could be a cause of temperature change.

    Now this is where science gets weird. As you know cause and effect are not imbalanced relationships. In physics they talk about for every action their is an equal and opposite reaction. In geophysics, it's not so abundantly clear what the opposite reaction occurs because of certain events. Certainly, we see geologic cycles like rain where rain falls travels to the ocean then is transported back over land in the form of clouds and becomes rain again. We call these systems and they tend to be pretty constant and this is that equal opposite reaction.. We've found that each system may be a part of a greater system, like a cog inside a wheel. While we may not see the impact rain has on plate tectonics it's possible that rain impacts plate tectonics, most likely to a negligible degree, so we can't really say that rain causes earthquakes. however there is something of a butterfly effect on most of the earth systems, when a thing happens in one place it impacts a variety of systems to a certain degree, and how it impacts the system can be tracked, like a decrease/increase in rain over an area hit by a tsunami. We've seen events like an increase in fish stock within coastal regions immediately after a large earthquake. What we don't see because of the difficulty in measuring it, is the relationship between the ocean and plate tectonics. We understand ocean plates are denser, and continental plates are more buoyant, We don't quite understand if this creates changes in plate tectonics even though through observation we see that the Pacific plate is one of the most active and most dense plates and is under the largest amount of water of any other plate.

    What does this have to do with climate change? a lot surprisingly. If climate changes as we suspect it is changing then the amount of water in the ocean basins will rise to a certain degree, maybe a few inches maybe a few feet. That water has a weight. It has a weight when it is glacier certainly but the effect the weight has on the plates changes as buoyancy allows displacement and a certain amount of elasticity that it won't have once it converts to water. The amount of ocean rising will have a weight impact on the plates. We don't know if more water will increase plate movement or decrease it, or let it remain the same. It's an unknown. If weight increase pressure on the ocean plates then you will see an increase of plate movement. but how much if any is difficult to surmise because it is an unknown. Think of it this way, 1 inch of added ocean increases the oceans total weight within a basin by about 1000 kilotons. Space artifacts that struck the earth and had radial earthquake zones would cause about the same amount of pressure as 1000 kilotons of water but that is usual only on dry land it may have no effect on the ocean. Does climate change impact earthquakes? Possibly. Most likely no. But further research may show that it will or has in the past. I feel safe in saying "no" earthquakes are not indirectly caused by climate change and equally safe in saying it impacts seismicity

    Which leads me to tsunami. Climate change does impact the height, amount, and likelihood of damage by a tsunami. Just an increase in 1 inch of water can increase the distance a tsunami goes inland by about a 1/4 mile. A tsunami at high tide is much more devastating than one at low tide. I've left a presentation that demonstrates a little bit of that discussing tides. Much of the work on tides also shows a similar stratification with sea level changes. Climate change may not impact plate tectonics it certainly impacts Tsunami devastation.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Not at all. If you have had Geography in high school, you would know.

    The earth is made out of a lot of plates. Those plates move around on a ball of hot magma. This is called Plate Tectonics. Because of the movements, pressure is built up. Eventually, when the pressure is relieved, you get eartquakes.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Petter
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    No. Earthquakes happend frequently way before global warming was even heard of.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.