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"Deep Future: The Next Supercontinent" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 7:39 p.m. PST

"Science fiction writers range freely through time, making many scientific papers fertile ground for plot ideas and settings. So here's an extraordinary one. We know that Earth's continents used to be packed into a single large land mass called Pangaea, which is thought to have broken apart about 200 million years ago as tectonic plates shifted. Interestingly, we can expect a remote future in which the continents will have once again come together, as Michael Way (NASA GSFC) has pointed out at an online poster session at the ongoing virtual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. And such a supercontinent has ramifications for habitability.

Let's talk about those because they have a bearing on astrobiology as we examine exoplanets and consider their suitability for life. We're a decade or so (at minimum) away from being able to determine how land and sea are distributed on a nearby world, but climate modeling is useful as we look toward estimating habitability. That involves, as this work shows, investigating how land masses are positioned on a planetary surface and their effects on climate in the habitable zone.

Working with Hannah Davies and Joao Duarte (University of Lisbon) and Mattias Green (Bangor University, Wales), Way has run 3D global climate models which are, according to Columbia University's Earth Institute (where Way is an affiliate) the first models made on a supercontinent in the deep future. Out of this the scientists derive two likely outcomes. The first, occurring in the modeling in about 200 million years, is a merging of all continents except Antarctica around the north pole, forming the supercontinent ‘Amasia.'…"
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