Extreme heat will wipe out most life on Earth, including us, but not for a few hundred million years.
In 250 million years’ time the world’s continents will merge to form one hot, dry, and largely inhospitable supercontinent, according to an apocalyptic study by the University of Bristol.
They dubbed the new, single continent “Pangea Ultima”and simulated what its climate will feel like, with temperatures ranging between 40 and 70 degrees Celsius.
The first supercomputer climate model figured high temperatures will continue to increase as the sun becomes brighter and heats the Earth.
Volcanoes will erupt more frequently, releasing carbon dioxide that will also heat the planet.
The CO2 levels expected on Pangea Ultima will arrive far sooner if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels, said one of the team.
Mammals, including humans, have historically adapted to weather extremes and survived – growing fur and hibernating in the cold and warm have been key.
Though mammals have evolved to live through colder temperatures but their ability to power through high temperatures has remained constant.
Exposure to prolonged, excessive heath will be far harder to overcome.
If the climate simulations prove correct we would not survive the heat, said the scientists.
Dr. Alexander Farnsworth, University of Bristol, said: “The newly-emerged supercontinent would effectively create a triple whammy, comprising the continentality effect, hotter sun and more CO2 in the atmosphere, of increasing heat for much of the planet.
“The result is a mostly hostile environment devoid of food and water sources for mammals.
“Widespread temperatures of between 40 to 50 degrees Celsius, and even greater daily extremes, compounded by high levels of humidity would ultimately seal our fate.
“Humans – along with many other species – would expire due to their inability to shed this heat through sweat, cooling their bodies.”
Climate change and global warming created by humans is increasing heat and mortality in some regions, the experts said.
However, the research suggests the planet will largely remain habitable until the seismic change in landmass in the deep future.
Only eight to 16 percent of the land would be habitable for mammals when the supercontinent forms, according to the team.
Co-author Dr. Eunice Lo of the University of Bristol said: “It is vitally important not to lose sight of our current Climate Crisis, which is a result of human emissions of greenhouse gases.
“While we are predicting an uninhabitable planet in 250 million years, today we are already experiencing extreme heat that is detrimental to human health.
“This is why it is crucial to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible.”
An international team of scientists simulated temperature, wind, rain and humidity tends fort the Pangea Ultima.
They used models of tectonic plate movement, ocean chemistry and biology to map the future inputs and outputs of CO2.
Dr. Benjamin Mills of the University of Leeds calculated the future C02 levels and said: “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.
“Of course, this assumes that humans will stop burning fossil fuels, otherwise we will see those numbers much, much sooner.”
The layout of Pangea Ultima could be key to determining how likely it is humans will be able to survive.
As a result, the research, published in Nature Geoscience, highlights the important of tectonics and continental layouts when researching planets beyond our solar system.
Dr. Farnsworth, also a visiting Professor at the Tibetan Plateau Earth System, Environment and Resources (TPESER), at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research said: “The outlook in the distant future appears very bleak. Carbon dioxide levels could be double current levels.
“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 (158.00 °F) .
“This work also highlights that a world within the so-called ‘habitable zone’ of a solar system may not be the most hospitable for humans depending on whether the continents are dispersed, as we have today, or in one large supercontinent.”
The post “Could extreme heat trigger the first mass extinction since dinosaurs died?” appeared first on Zenger.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
(Additional reporting provided by Talker News)
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