Chlorophyll concentration and surface temperature changes associated with earthquakes
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The preparation process of an impending earthquake may leave fingerprints on the earth’s surface. Elastic strain in rocks, formation of micro-cracks, gas releases and other chemical or physical activities in the earth’s crust before and during earthquakes has been reported to cause rises in temperature, surface latent heat flux (SLHF), upwelling index and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration on the ground or sea surface. Changes in surface temperature can be monitored with thermal infrared sensors such as NOAA-AVHRR and microwave radiometers like AMSR-E/Aqua. SLHF data and upwelling indices are provided by National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Reanalysis Project and Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory, respectively. This study examines behaviors of the above four factors prior to the past three oceanic and coastal earthquakes occurred at the Pacific Ocean (Northern California of June 15, 2005, Central California of September 28, 2004, and December 22, 2003). We were successful in detecting pre-earthquake anomalies prior to all three earthquakes. Our detailed analysis revealed 1–5 °C rises in surface temperature in epicentral areas. Considerable anomalies in Chl-a concentration, 1–2 weeks before the day of the main earthquakes, were spotted, which are attributed to the rise in upwelling index. Time series of SLHF showed meaningful rises from 1 month to a fortnight before the earthquake events. One problem in our research was the low resolution of the data which makes the graphs that are generated from NCEP database affected by all sources of anomalies, other than seismic activities, within an about 1.8°–2.5° (200 km) area.
KeywordsEarthquake Chlorophyll Surface temperature Satellite Early information Upwelling
The SLHF data have been downloaded from NCEP site. MDOIS Chl-a and AVHRR’s SST data were also used. Upwelling indices for the Pacific Ocean have been downloaded from Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory (PFEL). AMSR-E data are provided by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). Reanalysis data are downloaded from the IRI/LDEO Climate Data Library. Here, we greatly appreciate their help. The authors are thankful to two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions which helped us to improve the original version of the manuscript.
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