Ash Rain

February 7, 2015

Three_WorldsWindy on California’s north coast this early Saturday, and although in drizzle form right now, on occasion rain does spatter heavy for a little bit.
Here in Mckinleyville, not too far from the shoreline, wind gusts up 47 mph were recorded earlier, with rainfall totals probably climbing through today near three inches.
Right as water is rain.

Except maybe when there’s additional ingredients — via USAToday this morning;

Rainfall described as milky-colored, dusty or dirty fell across parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, but its origin is unclear.
The National Weather Service received reports of the dirty rain from more than 15 cities from Hermiston, Ore., to Rathdrum, Idaho, on Friday.

An explanation: Volcanic eruptions in Mexico and Russia..

(Illustration: M.C. Escher’s ‘Three Worlds,‘ found here).

Odd piece of weather news — CNN takes it further, also this morning:

“We have received reports of ‘white stuff’ on vehicles. The ash is more than likely from the Volcano Shiveluch,” Washington state’s Walla Walla County Emergency officials said in statement.
The volcano, located on the Kamchatka peninsula in extreme northeast Russia, “spewed an ash plume to about the 20,000-foot level in late January,” the agency says.
“It has been deposited in a widespread area, including Washington and Oregon.”
But in an updated post, emergency officials say it could be as a result of various reasons.
“While the substance is likely ash is from Volcano Shiveluch, they are a number of volcanoes that are currently active,” they say. “The source of the material has not been scientifically confirmed.”
And the ash may be from another part of the world.

Therefore, the odd:

The distances between the volcanoes and the Washington/Oregon areas are staggering — the Russian volcano is 4,000 miles away and the volcano in Mexico is more than 2,000 miles away.
But there are some other theories floating around.
“We have heard a few theories thus far including; volcanic ash from Mexico or Russia, dust picked up from last night’s strong winds, or perhaps ash from last year’s wildfires over SE Oregon/SW Idaho. We still don’t have a definitive answer,” the U.S. National Weather Service in Spokane posted on its Facebook page — along with a picture of what it called “milky rain” collected from its rain gauge.

Another environmental head scratching.
Yet actually, just another brick in the wall — related to rain of milk-colored ash, just last week a new study published showing activity of the shitload of underwater/undersea volcanoes stretched across the globe might have a bigger influence on the climate than previously figured (via ScienceDaily):

“People have ignored seafloor volcanoes on the idea that their influence is small — but that’s because they are assumed to be in a steady state, which they’re not,” said the study’s author, marine geophysicist Maya Tolstoy of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
“They respond to both very large forces, and to very small ones, and that tells us that we need to look at them much more closely.”
A related study by a separate team this week in the journal Science bolsters Tolstoy’s case by showing similar long-term patterns of submarine volcanism in an Antarctic region Tolstoy did not study.

Enter volcanoes.
Researchers have suggested that as icecaps build on land, pressure on underlying volcanoes also builds, and eruptions are suppressed.
But when warming somehow starts and the ice begins melting, pressure lets up, and eruptions surge.
They belch CO2 that produces more warming, which melts more ice, which creates a self-feeding effect that tips the planet suddenly into a warm period.
A 2009 paper from Harvard University says that land volcanoes worldwide indeed surged six to eight times over background levels during the most recent deglaciation, 12,000 to 7,000 years ago.
The corollary would be that undersea volcanoes do the opposite: as earth cools, sea levels may drop 100 meters, because so much water gets locked into ice.
This relieves pressure on submarine volcanoes, and they erupt more.
At some point, could the increased CO2 from undersea eruptions start the warming that melts the ice covering volcanoes on land?

And the actual, real keynote at the very end of the article:

Edward Baker, a senior ocean scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said, “The most interesting takeaway from this paper is that it provides further evidence that the solid Earth, and the air and water all operate as a single system.”

Hence, ash rain in Walla Walla.

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