Scientists at the University of Bristol have used the first supercomputer climate models of the distant future to predict how climate extremes will intensify after the world’s continents will merge to form a single supercontinent, Pangea Ultima, in about 250 million years.
They found that
the new world will be extremely hot, dry and practically uninhabitable for humans and mammals.
The researchers simulated the supercontinent’s temperature, wind, rainfall and humidity trends, and used models of tectonic plate movement, ocean chemistry and biology to calculate carbon dioxide levels.
the formation of Pangea Ultima would not only lead to more frequent volcanic eruptions, spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and warming the planet, but the Sun would also become brighter, emitting more energy and warming the Earth further.
The findings were published in a study published on Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
A newly formed supercontinent would effectively create a triple whammy of continental impact, a hotter sun, and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
said Alexander Farnsworth, a senior researcher at the University of Bristol and lead author of the study.
Widespread temperatures between 40-50 degrees Celsius and even greater daily extremes, exacerbated by high humidity, would eventually seal our fate.
Humans – along with many other species – would die out as they would be unable to sweat this heat to cool their bodies
Although predictions for the future involve great uncertainty, scientists say the picture looks “very bleak” as only 8-16% of the supercontinent’s land area will be habitable for mammals.
While we predict an uninhabitable planet in 250 million years, we are already experiencing extreme heat that is harmful to human health. It is therefore crucial that we reach net zero emissions as soon as possible
– added Eunice Lo, climate change and health researcher at the University of Bristol, co-author of the study.
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