A huge plunge in oxygen levels will wipe out most life on Earth in around a billion years’ time, scientists warn. It means the planet would return to an inhospitable methane-rich environment comparable to that of the early Earth. US and Japanese researchers predicted how our planet’s atmosphere will change in light of several processes related to biology, geology and climate. They found rising solar brightness will affect surface temperatures and photosynthesis and cause rapid atmospheric deoxygenation. In their paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers wrote: ” We find that future deoxygenation is an inevitable consequence of increasing solar fluxes.” As the sun brightens, surface temperatures will rise and photosynthesis will fall, the scientists say. This will happen before so-called moist greenhouse conditions appear, where water will irreversibly leak from the Earth’s atmosphere, the research shows. In addition, the findings suggest that atmospheric oxygen is not a permanent fixture on planets suitable for life. This could have implications on our search for life elsewhere in the universe. Before 2.4 billion years ago, our planet’s atmosphere was rich in methane, water vapour, ammonia, and neon gas but it lacked free oxygen. Free oxygen arrived on Earth in an… Read full this story
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