As weathering pulls carbon from the atmosphere, the planet cools. For instance, other Ohio State geologists recently determined that the rise and weathering of the Appalachians preceded an ice age 450 million years ago.
If more carbon is being buried in the ocean than scientists once thought, does that mean we can worry less about global warming?
"I wouldn't go that far," Goldsmith said. "But if you want to build an accurate climate model, you need to understand how much CO2 is taken out naturally every year. And this paper shows that those numbers could be off substantially."
Carey agreed, and added that weathering rocks is not a practical strategy for reversing global warming, either.
"You'd have to weather all the volcanic rocks in the world to reduce the CO2 level back to pre-industrial times," she said. "You'd have to grind the rock into really fine particles, and you'd consume a lot of energy -- fossil fuels -- to do that, so there probably wouldn't be any long-term gain."
|Contact: Anne Carey|
Ohio State University