Yellowstone National Park has a great geyser called Old Faithful that spits out boiling hot water on a regular basis (every, on average) 90 to 94 minutes). I’ve never seen it in person beforebut I assumed there was no rush as with a name like Old Faithful it would likely be there forever. Turns out I was wrong because like pretty much everything else, the geyser is messed up by the climate crisis.
ONE new study Published in Geophysical Research Letters this week, found evidence that Old Faithful did not erupt more than that eight centuries ago for a period of several decades West experienced a severe drought. Now is climate change increase the risk one serious thing Drought in the westwhat could stop the geyser again.
The researchers were interested in Old Faithful’s patterns when they read this other scientists had found pieces of petrified wood on his hill. These pieces suggested that the now barren area once encouraged tree growth, and since trees could never withstand the heat and alkalinity of the geyser’s regular flooding, it meant something big had changed.
To learn more, the new study team received 13 pieces of petrified pine from the construction site. They then used radiocarbon dating – a method of determining the age of organic material using an isotope of carbon – to find out how old the pieces of wood were. You could trace it back to growth between 1233 and 1362.
By examining data from nearby tree rings and scouring the scientific literature, the authors learned that the area was experiencing “severe multidecadal regional droughts” at the time. It was an era called Medieval warm periodwhen the northern hemisphere saw warm, dry conditions, likely due to changes in ocean circulation.
The study suggests that the long dry season might have cut off Old Faithful water supply. Eventually, geysers form when abundant groundwater can escape through cracks in the E.arth. Since no water could burst, the eruptions stopped.
This dry past could resemble our climate future. according to to the National Park ServiceYellowstone is expected to be much hotter and drier towards the end of the 21st century. If carbon pollution increases dramatically in the coming decades, Show projections Yellowstone will be up to 7.2 degrees Celsius hotter than today. In fact, over the past few decades, researchers have observed the time between eruptions of Old Faithful increased from a few 66 minutes in the 1960s more than 90 minutes to date. So if we don’t do everything we can to contain the climate crisis (which, by the way, we should be doing if we want to survive), we can expect the hot spring to wear off again.