A new supercontinent will form in hundreds of millions of years

The giant supercontinent could reappear within 200 million years, dramatically changing Earth’s climate.

Scientists modeled Earth in the distant future with the formation of a supercontinent and presented their findings at the December 8 annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). They explore two scenarios. The first case is that after about 200 million years, almost all the continents will be concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, leaving only Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere. In the second case, after 250 million years, the supercontinent formed around the equator, extending to the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

A new supercontinent will form in hundreds of millions of years
Pangea is the most recent supercontinent in Earth’s history. (Photo: Imagico).

In both cases, the team calculated global climate effects based on the topography of the supercontinent. They were surprised to find that when the continents clustered in the north and the terrain was mostly mountainous, global temperatures were significantly colder than in other models. The result could spur an unprecedented deep cold period in Earth’s history, lasting at least 100 million years.

The continents of the Earth did not always stay the same shape as they are today. Over the past 3 million years, the planet has gone through periods in which the continents first clustered together to form a vast supercontinent, and then split apart, said lead researcher Michael Way, a scientist at the Institute of Geosciences. NASA’s Goddard Space Study in New York. The most recent supercontinent is Pangea , which existed 200 – 300 million years ago, covering Africa, Europe, North America, and South America. Before Pangaea was the supercontinent Rodinia, which appeared 700-900 million years ago. Before that, the supercontinent Nuna formed 1.6 billion years ago and broke up 1.4 million years ago.

In the new study, Way and colleagues looked at the Aurica and Amasia swathes of land and various landforms such as hills, plains near the sea, or flat but some mountains, and included a model called ROCKE-3D. In addition to plate tectonics, they also use many other parameters to calculate the shape of the Earth in the future, based on how the Earth changes over time.

The most surprising result in the model was that global temperatures were nearly 4 degrees Celsius colder than the rugged supercontinent Amasia in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s because the supercontinent’s ice and snow are located at high altitudes, permanently covering the ground during the summer and winter months, making the planet’s surface temperature two degrees lower than in any other case. If Amasia had fewer hills, lakes and inland seas could form, helping to transport heat northward from the equator, causing seasonal melting of snow and ice. The formation of the supercontinent Amasia could lead to a longer Ice Age, about 100 – 150 million years. Tropical lowlands will disappear with biodiversity. However, new species can emerge and adapt to survive in extreme cold environments.