A recent study published in Nature Geoscience uses supercomputer climate models to examine how a supercontinent, dubbed Pangea Ultima (also called Pangea Proxima), that will form 250 million years from now will result in extreme temperatures, making this new supercontinent uninhabitable for life, specifically mammals.
This study was conducted by an international team of researchers led by the University of Bristol and holds the potential to help scientists better understand how Earth’s climate could change in the distant future from natural processes, as opposed to climate change.
The Earth’s temperatures are estimated to rise drastically 250 million years from now due to two reasons: increased volcanism from the tectonic activity merging all the continents together, and our sun giving off more energy and heat as it ages. While volcanoes act as temperature moderators by releasing carbon dioxide and naturally warming the planet, too much volcanism results in too much carbon dioxide, which results in drastic temperature increases. Additionally, like mammals, our sun also grows with age, and as it grows it gives off more heat and energy.
“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,” said Dr. Alexander Farnsworth, who is a senior research associate at the University of Bristol and lead author of the study.
“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.”
For the study, the researchers used computer climate models to simulate the envi…