Computer modeling of the movement of the continents and its effect on the Earth’s climate has produced a rather bleak outlook for mammals. New simulations show almost all of them Land mammals will become extinct on Earth within 250 million years.
This devastation has nothing to do with climate change today. The simulation, conducted by scientists from the British University of Bristol, is an attempt to predict the changes that may occur in the situation on our planet in the very long term.
In a quarter of a billion years, two phenomena will coincide that will completely change our planet. First, the sun slowly gets brighter. Within 250 million years, about 2.5% of it will reach our planet. More energy from now. Apparently not much, but even such a small increase can have serious consequences for the climate.
Especially since the planet itself would then be highly vulnerable to rapid environmental changes. At the same time, all of Earth’s continents will be reunited. Tectonic movements will reclose the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Antarctica is about to split in half and collide with Australia and Africa. South America would also connect with the African continent, eventually eliminating the Atlantic Ocean. There will be a large global ocean surrounding a single continental island. Scientists named the supercontinent “Pangaea Ultima” in reference to the supercontinent Pangea, which existed in the time of the dinosaurs.
The center of the supercontinent will be a barren desert. Temperatures within this large land mass will be very high, especially since the center of the new continent will be located on the equator. Most likely, there would not be a large area of land near the poles that could provide shelter for animals that were not adapted to them. Unimaginable heat today.
This is very bad news for life. “Supercontinents appear to create conditions that facilitate major extinctions,” says author of the new study Alexander Farnsworth, a climate scientist at the University of Bristol. “The formation of supercontinents coincided with four of the five major extinctions known from the geologic past.”
As a result of the changes, Carbon dioxide levels in the air are likely to rise. On a scale of millions of years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere depends on the balance between the gas’s emission from volcanoes and its removal through chemical reactions with newly exposed rocks. In the dry interior of the supercontinent, less carbon dioxide will react with the rocks.
Farnsworth used a geochemical model to calculate future atmospheric carbon dioxide levels after the formation of Pangea Ultima. It turns out Then the level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere will be 50 percent. higher than now.
The researchers then entered this data into a climate model. They found that under almost all scenarios, conditions on the vast majority of the supercontinent would exceed upper limits for mammalian survival, such as a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C – a value that reflects conditions under which we can no longer naturally cool ourselves to a temperature 35°C. Prevent dangerous overheating.
“We have an upper body temperature limit that we can’t easily increase,” Farnsworth says. During Earth’s previous warm periods, land mammals adapted, for example, by evolving smaller bodies that lost heat more easily, but the upper limit on survival did not change.
The birds will have a better chance. Many of them migrate long distances, and a body temperature of around 41°C means their upper limit to survival is higher. Some are able to maintain a temperature of 48°C without any obvious side effects.
If the descendants of today’s humans are still alive on Earth after a quarter of a billion years, they will have no chance of surviving in this planetary furnace except by resorting to technological solutions. “One can hope that by then we will have become a space-faring civilization,” Farnsworth says.
However, the Earth will look completely different. We can expect that ecological niches currently occupied by large mammals will be taken over by other animals. Elephants, wolves and antelopes, for example, may be replaced by descendants of today’s birds. Which is ironic, because birds are directly descended from dinosaurs. The T-Rex was more closely related to the canary than to the cobra. So it is possible that their distant descendants will once again take over the world in some form.
Scientists say there is also a possibility that Pangea Ultima could lead to the end of life on Earth, especially if temperatures rise to the point that plants can no longer photosynthesize. However, the ability of plants to adapt to these higher temperatures, as well as the resilience of future marine ecosystems, will require further research.
Fortunately, this is not the only possible vision of the future. Other scenarios for the evolution of Earth’s continents include the formation of other supercontinents at the same time, such as the nearby pole “Amasia.” It will be cooler, giving mammals a better chance of survival.
But then it will be more difficult on land. After the collapse of Pangea Ultima, which is expected to happen in the next tens of millions of years, the Earth will face more problems. The increasing activity of the Sun may lead to the loss of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere within approximately a billion years. Only anaerobic microbes will survive on the planet.
In another few billion years, the Sun will warm our planet a lot Even the most persistent bacteria would not have a chance to survive. Fortunately, we still have some time.
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