Weathering Reinforced Orbital Glaciation Theory

I suggested that one could absorb CO2 by deliberately watering vast hot expanses of basalt and, or calcium or magnesium bearing tropical wastelands.
Friend Ian Miller pointed out in a comment that crushing rocks to achieve this required energy. I replied that, actually, I have seen immense expanses of desert in North America, South America, Mexico, Iran, Africa with such rock in a pulverulent form: no need to crush them, they are already completely crushed.

Then I remembered the Sahara, with thousands of kilometers of such pitiless desert. The highest mountain in the Sahara, as in Iran, is a volcano… But then I also remembered seeing prehistoric paintings there, of bucolic hunting scenes complete with hippopotamuses and trees… Imagine: that’s now an absolute desert: seeing one tree is seeing a miracle (one such tree is called “l’arbre du Tibesti”; it’s many thousands years old…).. Ah, but then, when the Sahara was wet, the watering, and the weathering, were achieved! CO2 was withdrawn from the atmosphere!

The white substance is natron, well-known to the Egyptians, in a giant caldera, the Trou au Natron, at the foot of an enormous shield volcano in Chad… In the middle of the Sahara. And not the largest volcano there. The cliffs are 1,000 meters tall. Yes, this all absorbs CO2 when wet…

So I suggest this: glaciations, in the last 2.75 million years were accentuated, reinforced by CO2 absorption from chemically interacting with rocks in the desert. Indeed, during glaciations, the giant circulation cells which create the arid subtropics are less aggressive and move south: the deserts become wet and green.

Now make no mistake: I am NOT saying that the orbital glaciation theory is false. I am just correcting it. I am adding a factor. The orbital theory of glaciation says that glaciations occur when it is too cold in July-August to melt snows in the Northern Hemisphere… where the continents mostly are (the southern equivalent is mostly ice-free: it’s an ocean, the “Roaring Forties”). The theory was first suggested by French mathematicians Joseph Alphonse Adhémar (1797–1862) who computed that ice ages were controlled by astronomical forces in his 1842 book Revolutions of the Sea. The idea is now associated with Milankovitch’s name. The theory’s recent Computer simulations show that this is (roughly) correct… Although various sticky mysteries remain.

I am just suggesting that the glaciating effect found by pure orbital and Earth rotation dynamics is amplified by the mechanism of CO2 diminution from rock chemistry I just described, in this essay and the preceding one.
Indeed orbital effects come short of explaining what is observed. Simulations and paleoclimate analysis show that the variation in Earth’s climate is much more extreme than the variation in the intensity of solar radiation calculated as the Earth’s orbit evolves. Methane release and the like doesn’t cut it yet. If orbital forcing causes climate change, and it does, science needs to explain why the observed glaciation effect is amplified compared to the theoretical, purely astronomical effect.

I just did.

Patrice Ayme

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6 Responses to “Weathering Reinforced Orbital Glaciation Theory”

  1. ianmillerblog Says:

    Whether the desert sands would suffice depends on their nature. Pyroxenes, by and large, are difficult to weather, and granite weathers but does not absorb much CO2. The natron you refer too is sodium carbonate, I believe, but there probably is not enough of it to make a huge difference to the global climate. Apparently the Zealandia subcontinent (according, I think, to the latest Nature) has a lot of peridotite under the sea, so it is wet, but it is not absorbing as much as it could because s the surface weathers, it tends to leave a coating, which is why I suggested crushing – to speed things up. If desert sands were of the appropriate rock type, all you need is water. Lots of water.

    I agree something must be amplifying the astronomical effects. The amount of CO2 may be one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Agreed about the natron, that was mostly an anecdote… Yes, well, I have been all over the Sahara as a child, and I saw lots of pulverulent volcanic style material… And it dawned on me we may have an Indonesian style situation there: Indonesia absorbs 10% of world CO2, with 2% of land area, but the expanses I evoked in Sahara, Arabia, Iran are around 10% of the land area…
      The beauty of it is that this is an amplifying mechanism… without getting into methane, itself known to be amplifying… and the melting of the WAIS, the West Antarctic Ice Shield… now known to be occurring (latest news)…


  2. G Max Says:

    Nice. Congrats. Scientists didn’t think of it before? Really?


  3. benign brodwicz Says:

    Can you dig up some studies of how big these effects might be? I agree with Ian that smashing rocks uses energy. What about the surface features of the earth at various time points?

    I have been looking into the effects of the coming forecast grand solar minimum on global warming, and finding that credible estimates are that it could halt and possibly even slightly reverse the next few decades warming, although not final outcome.

    The politicians are supporting increased taxes to stop global warming and will probably claim the grand solar minimum’s cooling effect is due to their efforts. They are piloting programs to spray albedo-inducing particulates into the atmosphere, while it is known that due to cosmic ray effects GSMs induce volcanic activity on the earth. What could go wrong?

    I understand that the consensus is that GW has indefinitely postponed the next ice age, but still, geoengineering makes me nervous.


    • G Max Says:

      Preceding post Patrice said 100 kilos of basalt made 50 kilos CO2 into rock. And there was no need to smash anything, that’s why she mentioned Indonesia, where CO2 is destroyed as we speak, big time


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