Susan Brantley on Earth's Geological Thermostat
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At the core of Earth’s geological thermostat is the dissolution of silicate minerals in the presence of atmospheric carbon dioxide and liquid water. But at large scales, the effectiveness and temperature sensitivity of this reaction depends on geomorphological, climatic, and tectonic factors that vary greatly from place to place. As described in the podcast, to predict watershed-scale or global temperature sensitivity, Susan Brantley characterizes these factors using the standard formula for the temperature dependence of chemical reaction rates using an empirically-determined activation energy for each process. Overall, her results suggest a doubling of the weathering rate for each 10-degree rise in temperature, but this value changes with the spatial scale of the analysis. Susan Brantley is a Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University.
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