For billions of years, Earth has rotated in the same direction as the sun — but what if that direction were reversed?
Deserts would cover North America, arid sand dunes would replace expanses of the Amazon rainforest in South America, and lush, green landscapes would flourish from central Africa to the Middle East, according to a computer simulation presented earlier this month at the annual European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2018 in Austria.
In the simulation, not only did deserts vanish from some continents and appear in others, but freezing winters plagued western Europe. Cyanobacteria, a group of bacteria that produce oxygen through photosynthesis, bloomed where they never had before. And the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an important climate-regulating ocean current in the Atlantic, faded away and resurfaced in the northern Pacific Ocean, scientists reported at the conference.