How much a part of the rise in global temperature is down to tectonic activity from the ocean floor?

How much a part of the increases in global temperature in recent years is down to hotspots and tectonic activity from the ocean floor? I would imagine this question must have been asked before, but warming of the oceans by interactions with undersea volcanoes and tectonic plate boundaries is surely just as likely the cause of increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere? Who knows the increases in CO2 that we’ve seen might have more to do with any CO2 steadily percolating up from the ocean floor as it has with the CO2 we’ve put there since the industrial revolution. I’m sure my idea of CO2 percolating up from the oceans is probably a crazy idea, but the warming we’ve seen in the world’s oceans in recent years does seem to be driving global warming ever upwards, and to me warming of the world oceans from below seems a lot more feasible than minute increases in solar output during the last century, which as far as I know has fallen ever so slightly.

What got me thinking about this was the global temperature record from the summer of 1877 to the autumn of 1878. As you can see from the graph below monthly global temperatures suddenly decided to zoom up to +0.4°C in February 1878 from a mean anomaly of -0.45°C just nine months earlier. Mean anomalies as high as this wouldn’t be seen again in the world for another 100 years, wild swings indeed, but what caused it or was it just down to the natural variability of the worlds climate?

I had to check the monthly anomalies for that period just to see if I had parsed them correctly, but as you can see the sudden warming is also visible in the Berkeley Earth record as well, with anomalies peaking at +0.51°C in March 1878.

If my speculation about what caused it is way of the mark, then what did cause the rapid warming event? If it had been a period of 12 months of cooling rather than warming, then you would look for volcanic activity to explain it by the increased amount of dust in the atmosphere. Perhaps warming from tectonic activity from the oceans floor was on the rise in 1877, after all Krakatoa was less than six years away. If warming like this isn’t that unusual for global temperatures in the 19th century, then there is no reason to think that a sudden warming of one degree in less than 12 months couldn’t happen again in the 21st century.


Before I came to post this article I did read another article about a not too dissimilar subject, although I don’t think these volcanic gases where being released from under the oceans, it does show anything is possible especially when we don’t know it all.


I am grateful for one of my subscribers for pointing this out to me, I had never given it any particular thought until he brought it to my attention after seeing the graph I had produced in a recent article about global temperatures this week.

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