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Is Earth Headed for Another Supercontinent?

Pangea - Deposit Photos

Supercontinents — giant landmasses made up of multiple continents — could emerge again on Earth 200 million years from now, and where they form on the globe could drastically affect our planet’s climate.

Scientists recently modeled this “deep future” view of Earth with a supercontinent makeover, presenting their findings Dec. 8 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), held online this year. They explored two scenarios: In the first, around 200 million years in the future, nearly all continents push into the Northern Hemisphere, with Antarctica left all alone in the Southern Hemisphere; in the second scenario, about 250 million years in the future, a supercontinent forms around the equator and extends into Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

For both, the researchers calculated the impact on global climate based upon the supercontinents’ topography. They were surprised to find that when continents were pushed together in the north and the terrain was mountainous, global temperatures were significantly colder than in the other models. Such an outcome could herald a deep freeze unlike any in Earth’s past, lasting at least 100 million years, scientists reported at AGU.

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