An American researcher would lead a study in India and Nepal to investigate the long term impact of Himalayan hot springs on the global carbon cycle.

An American researcher would lead a study in India and Nepal to investigate the long term impact of Himalayan hot springs on the global carbon cycle.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Geology at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, Matthew Evans, has received a grant of more than $ 100,000 from the National Science Foundation in this regard, an official release said, adding that the programme is part of a collaborative effort between Wheaton and Cornell University.

Speaking about his research, Mr. Evans said it offers a different possibility from the ‘traditional’ thought -- the formation of mountains reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide.

It was earlier thought that through a series of chemical reactions, Co2 from the atmosphere combines with water to form a weak acid, which then breaks down minerals within these mountain belts.

“Our work has shown that the hot springs are bringing to the surface as much, if not more, Co2 than is being removed by these chemical weathering processes,” he said.

“Up to this point, delivery of CO2 from mountain ranges hasn’t been considered a significant source.

So this finding represents a significant shift in the current paradigm, and has impacts on our understanding of the relationship between tectonics, climate and the carbon cycle,” he added.

The long-term climate record shows the extent of variability possible in the Earth system, from snowball to hothouse, Mr. Evans said.

“We need to understand how the carbon cycle and long-term global climate are related, even in the absence of humans, so that we can better estimate how the disturbances we are causing may impact the system.

“That understanding hinges on the ability to constrain carbon sources and carbon “sinks” (places of accumulation).

“Earth scientists are trying to figure out how the Earth works, and the linkage between mountain building, global climate and the carbon cycle is a great example of the dynamic Earth system,” he said.

The grant by National Science Foundation will provide two years of financial backing for Evans’ research.

Much of the funding will support fieldwork in central and western Nepal and in north-western India.