Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Archive for the ‘acid rain’ Category

HK’s Air Pollution Claims 600 Lives

Posted by feww on October 14, 2010

Hong Kong’s roadside air pollution breaks yet another record


Hong Kong Air Pollution. Source:
Crazy Hong Kong. Image may be subject to copyright. Click images to enlarge.

At least 594 people have died prematurely in 2010 from the effects of worsening pollution levels in HK, the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health has reported.

“The figure has already surpassed the official death toll of the SARS epidemic, which is believed to have killed 299 people in Hong Kong seven years ago,” a report said.

Roadside pollution set a new record in the March quarter, teh report said.

The University of Hong Kong’s Hedley Environmental Index (HEI) shows that the 2010 air pollution has already cost the region HK$1.3 billion (US$167.54 million). The deadly smog has also been responsible for 4.36 million doctor visits and about  45,000 hospital stays, the report said.

Deadly Smog Over China


Download large image
(5 MB, JPEG) — images were  acquired October 8, 2010


A high-pressure weather system over eastern China led to air pollution accumulating in the region for about a week. China’s National Environmental Monitoring Center declared air quality “hazardous” around Beijing and in 11 eastern provinces on October 10, as visibility was reduced to about 100 meters (330 feet). The poor visibility also led to  at least 32 deaths in traffic accident, reports say. “On October 8, 2010, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites captured this natural color view of the smog event in China. The milky white and gray covering the center of the image is smog and fog, while the brighter whites at the left and right edges are clouds.” NASA EO said. “The Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite detected extremely high levels of aerosol particles (lower left image) and sulfur dioxide (lower right) on October 8. The sulfur dioxide typically comes from coal-burning power plants and smelters, and the peak concentrations—6 to 8 Dobson Units—were six to eight times the norm for China and 20 times the norm for the United States. The Aerosol Index indicates the presence of ultraviolet light-absorbing aerosols, most likely smoke from fires and industrial processes. At an AI value of 4, aerosols are so dense that you would have difficulty seeing the midday sun.”

“More than half of China’s total water supply is undrinkable. And nearly a quarter of China’s surface water is considered unsafe even for industrial use. Acid rain is also threatening major cities like Shanghai,” a report said.

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Volcanoes Killed Off Dinosaurs

Posted by feww on December 17, 2008

Researchers say volcanism more likely caused K-T extinction; not asteroid impact

Addressing the age-old question of what really happened to dinosaurs, researchers at Princeton University say they have found more evidence that it was volcanism, not an asteroid impact that killed them off.

According to the asteroid-impact theory, put forward in 1980 by physicist Luis Walter Alvarez, the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, or the K-T mass extinction, which killed off the dinosaurs and caused the extinction of about 70 percent of life on Earth, was caused by a massive impact.


Artist’s rendering of bolide impact. Made by Fredrik. Cloud texture from public domain NASA image.

The asteroid-impact theory is supported by Chicxulub crater in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which was discovered by geophysicist Glen Penfield, while searching for oil. The 65-million year old crater occurred about the time of the K-T event.

Other theories citing climate change and volcanism have been suggested more recently. Gerta Keller of Princeton University says her studies point the blame toward volcanism.

The Deccan Traps

An intense period of colossal volcanic eruptions, which began about 67 million years ago, earlier than the impact, was regarded as another potential culprit. The eruptions  formed the Deccan Traps in India.

The Deccan Traps formed between 60 and 68 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period. The bulk of the volcanic eruption occurred at the Western Ghats (near Mumbai) some 66 million years ago. This series of eruptions may have lasted fewer than 30,000 years in total. The gases released in the process may have played a role in the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, which included the extinction of the dinosaurs. [Wikipedia]

The Deccan Traps are a large igneous province located on the Deccan Plateau of west-central India (between 17-24N, 73-74E) and one of the largest volcanic features on Earth. They consist of multiple layers of solidified flood basalt that together are more than 2,000 m thick and cover an area of 500,000 km². The term ‘trap’, used in geology for such rock formations, is derived from the Swedish word for stairs (trappa, or sometimes trapp), referring to the step-like hills forming the landscape of the region.

Before the Deccan Traps region was reduced to its current size by erosion and continental drift, it is estimated that the original area covered by the lava flows was as large as 1.5 million km², approximately half the size of modern India. The present volume of directly observable lava flows is estimated to be around 512,000 km³.

The release of volcanic gases during the formation of the traps “contributed to an apparently massive global warming. Some data point to an average rise in temperature of 8 °C (14 °F) in the last half million years before the impact at Chicxulub.” [Wikipedia]

Climate Change

Extreme climate change may have been caused by both the bolide impact and the volcanic explosions; in either case  massive volumes of sulfur dioxide [creating acid rains,] dust and other particles into the atmosphere would have significantly altered the climate.

In fact, some researchers believe a combination of events may have caused the mass extinction, with the asteroid impact finalizing the event.

According to Keller, however, the asteroid-impact “theory is now facing perhaps it’s most serious challenge from the Deccan volcanism and perhaps the Chicxulub impact itself.” She said at a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Society in San Francisco.

The Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, which occurred approximately 65.5 million years ago (Ma), was a large-scale mass extinction of animal and plant species in a geologically short period of time. Widely known as the K–T extinction event, it is associated with a geological signature known as the K–T boundary, usually a thin band of sedimentation found in various parts of the world. K is the traditional abbreviation for the Cretaceous Period derived from the German name Kreidezeit, and T is the abbreviation for the Tertiary Period (a historical term for the period of time now covered by the Paleogene and Neogene periods). The event marks the end of the Mesozoic Era and the beginning of the Cenozoic Era.[1] “Tertiary” being discouraged as a formal time or rock unit by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the K-T event is now called the Cretaceous—Paleogene (or K-Pg) extinction event by many researchers. [Wikipedia]


Deccan Traps near Pune, state of Maharashtra in western India. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Credit: Kppethe.

Keller and her colleagues have recently analyzed geological records in India, Mexico and Texas to  determine the time of impact and the period of volcanic activities in relation to the K-T event. Their examination of sediment layers suggests that the crater impact occurred about 300,000 years before the K-T boundary, and had little or no effects to biota.

“There is essentially no extinction associated with the impact,” Keller said.

On the other hand, the peak of the Deccan volcanic explosions seems to have occurred “just before the K-T boundary,” according to a University of Paris geophysicist, Vincent Courtillot.

After the first volcanic flow, “the species disappear; we have essentially very few left [their recovery is stalled by the two subsequent flows and] by the fourth flow, the extinction is complete,” Keller said.

Courtillot study compares the amounts of sulfur dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by various events as follows, concluding that the Deccan traps are much more likely to have caused the K-T event than the asteroid impact :

  • The 1991 Pinatubo eruption: 0.017 billion tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • The Chicxulub crater:  500 billion tons of SO2
  • The Deccan traps: 10,000 billion tons SO2.

“If there had been no impact, we think there would have been a mass extinction anyway,” Courtillot said.

Confirming Courtillot’ team and her own findings, Keller added: “Deccan volcanism is the likely culprit behind the K-T mass extinction.”

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