Climate change can make earthquakes react even to changes in precipitation, know how!


Of all the events that could be related to climate change or its followers, the recent earthquake in Taiwan was discovered due to seasonal variations in the water cycle.

Taiwan faces both: frequent disastrous earthquakes because it is close to Pacific Ring of Fire. He is the witness of a large fluctuation in precipitation due to heavy rains and typhoons encircling the island between May and September. This therefore changes the water stored in the soil.
The academicians were quick to notice a trend.

Many earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater apparently during Taiwan’s dry season, ie around February to April.

Therefore, they collected the data on the earthquakes in eastern and western Taiwan between 2002 and 2018.

At the same time, the team collected groundwater readings from 40 monitoring stations and any records of changes in the earth’s crust as a function of seasonal water load.

The results reveal that in western Taiwan, seismic activity was highest during the dry season and lowest at the end of the monsoon season, between July and September.

They also looked at more distant records of 63 earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater between 1604 and 2018. Much to their respect, similar trends were observed in the seasonal variation of seismic activity in the region.

A higher intensity of seismic activity during the dry season can in turn increase the chances of a failure of a larger fault system in which stresses may already have built up, triggering a few larger earthquakes.

Taiwan’s geographic imbalance:

Taiwan is located in the middle of the converging border interaction where the Philippine Sea Plate collides with the Eurasian Plate at a rate of 85 to 90 mm / year.

Understanding Plate Tectonics

This region experiences frequent destructive earthquakes, with an average magnitude 6+ earthquake each year and heavy seasonal rainfall averaging over 2000 mm / year.

This causes annual fluctuations in the groundwater level of 5 to 15 m, reflecting the elastic response of the Earth to the seasonal water load.

The study was carried out by quantifying the spatio-temporal relationship between the region’s hydrologic cycle and earthquake seasonality and by analyzing seismicity time series, groundwater level and GNSS vertical time series.

In the dry season, we see more earthquakes because the water load has been removed», Says an expert. This decreases groundwater, resulting in a peak rebound of the earth’s crust, even under low stress levels.

Eastern Taiwan has developed a more complex pattern of seismic activity. There, deeper earthquakes tended to occur more frequently from December to February. While shallow earthquakes in this part were also linked to variations in groundwater level and changes in the earth’s crust.

How the earthquake develops

However, the maximum rate of seismicity can occur in both winter and summer.

Despite the rains associated with the typhoon, an increase in shallow events lasting about 2.5 years later Typhoon Morakot is linked to relatively low water storage in Taiwan.

But there was more variability in the timing of these changes in order to be clearly understood.

Although the effects of climate change on hurricanes, cyclones, floods and droughts were easily recognized, earthquakes appeared to be discrete events.

However, we cannot forget that the Earth systems are integrated and that each sphere: Atmosphere, Hydro, Lithosphere or Biosphere, they are in constant interaction with each other.

The thin layer of gas that harbors the climate and promotes global warming meets the Earth or the solid geosphere – so as to make climate change an even greater threat while penetrating the Earth.

According to a study in 2009, an earthquake fault that is initiated and ready to work is like a coil spring, can trip with “the pressure of a handshake ”.

Indian Himalayas and earthquakes:

Precipitation has influenced the pattern of seismic activity in the Himalayas in the past, where the 2015 Nepal earthquake took about 9,000 lives. The threat of devastating future earthquakes still hangs over the Himalayas.

During the summer monsoons, huge amounts of rain are drenched in the lowlands of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, scuffling through the southern mountain ranges, then draining slowly over the next few months.

This annual rainwater load and crustal discharge is reflected in the level of seismic activity, which is significantly lower during the summer months than during the winter, even in the calm and young Himalayas.

If the current weather regime can develop earthquakes and magma from the earth’s crust, it won’t be hard to imagine how the solid Earth is likely to respond to the large-scale environmental adjustments that accompany rapid climate change.

It is well known now that global average temperatures continue to rise at unregulated rates and, as a result, are more than a degree centigrade higher than in pre-industrial times.

The Earth has acquired the capacity to respond to such changes as it sees fit.


About Lucille Thompson

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