Scientists used a supercomputer to simulate the environment of our planet’s next supercontinent, Pangea Ultima, which is anticipated to form in around 250 million years, according to an intriguing new study published in the science journal Nature Geoscience. Monthly average temperatures on the continent range from 104 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 50 degrees Celsius), with temperatures reaching a lethal 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) in the hottest summer months.
Today’s average temperature on Earth is 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
Much of the continent would be deprived of water, making it impossible to drink or cultivate food. The study’s authors conclude that mammals — those that remain on Earth’s surface — would be unable to resist such a persistent barrage of heat.
“Humans, like many other species, would perish due to their inability to shed this heat through sweat, cooling their bodies,” said Alexander Farnsworth, the study’s principal author and a climate researcher at the University of Bristol.
Pangea Ultima Has Seen Extreme Temperatures
Mammalian life may still exist on the margins of the supercontinent, i.e. at higher latitudes with moderate temperatures. The majority of this future territory, however, would be unpleasant and unfriendly (84 to 92 percent). Researchers employed a well-known climate model, one of the UK Meteorological Office’s HadCM3 models, to simulate conditions on Pangea Ultima. (Climate models such as HadCM3 have been astonishingly accurate in forecasting the current warming of the Earth). Additionally, you can also read about- Earth Tremors Mystery Solved: Scientists Make Breakthrough in Understanding
Here’s Why It Would Get So Hot:
– Carbon dioxide would skyrocket in the atmosphere: The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere has a huge influence on Earth’s temperature. As a result, the planet’s temperature is currently rising. Fortunately, this is controllable heating – today’s heating is powered by the combustion of fossil fuels. When the continents meet, geologists predict rampant volcanism to flare up (as it most certainly did in the past), dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere incessantly.
“We think CO2 could rise from around 400 parts per million (ppm) today to more than 600 ppm many millions of years in the future,” said Benjamin Mills, a biogeochemical modeller at the University of Leeds who worked on the study. “Of course, this assumes that humans will stop burning fossil fuels, otherwise we will see those numbers much, much sooner.”
– The supercontinent’s location: Pangea Ultima is projected to form predominantly in Earth’s warmest region: the scorching tropics, where the planet receives the most sunshine. Warm ocean water evaporates into the tropical atmosphere, making it humid. Importantly, humidity, or greater moisture in the air, raises air temperatures while making it difficult (or impossible) to remove body heat.
– The continentality effect: The interiors of continents are far from the ocean’s moderating impact. Los Angeles, for example, enjoys a pleasant sea breeze that the state’s interior deserts do not. As all seven of Earth’s continents are crammed together, much of Pangea Ultima will be shielded from maritime effects, allowing the massive, solitary interior continent to bake.
– Sun’s increased brightness: Although our star is constant, it is gradually becoming brighter. The sun’s luminance increases by around 1% per 100 million years. This increased brightness will worsen heating on Pangea Ultima in 250 million years.
“With the Sun also anticipated to emit about 2.5 percent more radiation and the supercontinent being located primarily in the hot, humid tropics, much of the planet could be facing temperatures of between 40 to 70°C,” Farnsworth stated.
New paper alert “Climate extremes likely to drive land mammal extinction during next supercontinent assembly” in @NatureGeosci . w/ @EuniceLoClimate , Paul Valdes, @JonathanRBuzan , @bjwmills , Andrew Meredith, @chris_scotese , @StellarPlanet 1/nhttps://t.co/aKsWJxbrln
— Alex Farnsworth (@Climate_AlexF) September 25, 2023
The temperature of Pangea Ultima in the distant future is an intriguing study of where our planet and humanity are headed. But there is some good news. After all, 250 million years is a long time. We’d almost probably have a plan in place by then, similar to the one we’re working on for approaching asteroids.
And if we’re still here in 250 million years to face the onslaught of supercontinental heat, it implies we’ve successfully navigated the likes of human-caused climate change, menacing space rocks, and global epidemics. What an accomplishment that would be.