Magazine article The Futurist

End of the Earth's Oceans? A Billion Years from Now, Solar Radiation Will Have Set the Earth's Oceans Aboil

Magazine article The Futurist

End of the Earth's Oceans? A Billion Years from Now, Solar Radiation Will Have Set the Earth's Oceans Aboil

Article excerpt

Imagine a map of the Earth in the future. Depending on how far in the future you're imagining, you might envision political boundaries redrawn after war, or major cities swallowed by rising sea levels.

But if you picture a map of Earth's distant future, you might be alarmed by a major change: The Big Blue Marble will be missing its requisite stretches of blue, as the oceans will have completely disappeared from Earth. When? About a billion years from now, according to the latest estimates.

The good news is that this endpoint is considerably farther out than previous estimates of a water-free Earth--by hundreds of millions of years.

Models for predicting when oceans will evaporate have previously been limited to simplified, one-dimensional models that don't work well at estimating such high temperatures. A team of scientists from Paris-based Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory recently developed the first three-dimensional model to predict how the Earth will react to greatly increased luminosity.

Unlike older methods, this model takes into account atmospheric circulation, such as clouds and greenhouse gas patterns in specific parts of the globe. (The researchers advise that this phenomenon is unrelated to human-induced global warming, which affects the Earth over a matter of decades. …

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