Cross-posted from Daniel Cressey on The Great Beyond
Cyclones appear to be responsible for a large amount of organic carbon tied up in ocean sediments.
In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, Robert Hilton and colleagues report on the impact of cyclone-induced floods on carbon in the LiWu River in Taiwan. They found that between 77 and 92% of non-fossil carbon eroded from the LiWu catchment area was moved during floods linked to cyclones.
As increased sea surface temperatures from global warming could increase the intensity of cyclones, this could create negative feedback, with bigger cyclones locking up more organic carbon in sediments. Sadly this is not going to stop global warming.
“In terms of the manmade carbon cycle this is not going to save us. But it illustrates that the earth has natural ways of dealing with carbon dioxide,” says Hilton, a researcher at Cambridge University (Reuters).
He adds, “although we found that these tropical cyclones act as nature’s way of trying to re-balance the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, they can only do so much” (Daily Telegraph).
Reuters also notes the rather terrifying fact that paper author Meng-Chiang Chen of the Taroko National Park Headquarters was sent out during cyclones, tied up in a harness, in order to gather water from the river. Rather him than me…
Image: Cyclone Mindulle approximately 480 miles southeast of Tapei / NASA