Would a water-impacting meteorite alter the climate?

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Offline thedoc

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William McCartney  asked the Naked Scientists:

I listened to your podcast about the dating of the meteorite that finished off the dinosaurs.

If a meteorite of similar size and velocity hit the Earth again, chances are it would land in an ocean. That would obviously produce a huge tsunami that would do a lot of damage to the coasts, but I suspect that it would not have any significant affect on the climate, because there would be no pulverised rock thrown into the atmosphere.

Am I right?

William McCartney

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 09/04/2013 01:30:01 by _system »


Offline diogenesNY

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Re: Would a water-impacting meteorite alter the climate?
« Reply #1 on: 09/04/2013 18:26:19 »
Just a thought.... but off the top of my head, an ocean impact might have an even more severe effect than a land impact.

While on land, there would be lots of pulverized rock but lets keep in mind that a sea impact would not be just a scaled up version of tossing a stone into the creek.

It would certainly have to cause massive tsunamis as all that energy has to go someplace....... but also would cause an amazing amount of water to be instantly vaporized......  insta-boiled - and directly injected up into the atmosphere.

I don't know how much water this would be, but it should be easily calculatable.  Make assumptions about the mass and density of the rock, and the speed of impact and you can rough hash the energy of impact......    That much energy injected into that sq footage of water, etc.....  maybe there are hydrological rules of thumb for this.....  I don't know, but it would be a whole bunch.

Lots of hot steam - water vapor - shot into the atmosphere.

Speculated results:  LOT more cloud cover.  (high?  medium?  low?  all?)
LOTS more snow some places.
LOTS more rain some places.

Specific effects:  not sure....  any meteorologists on the board?

Not 100% sure what they would exactly be, but I would spec that the effects of an ocean strike would be _more_ profound than a land strike.