It’s unlikely humans will be around to see it, but in about 250m years Earth’s land masses will have moved together to form the next supercontinent. By this time the sun will be a little brighter and the Earth’s rotation will have slowed down, making a day about 30 minutes longer than now. So how will it feel to live on this future Earth?
Michael Way, from the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and colleagues have used computer models to travel forward in time. They investigated two plausible scenarios: Aurica (a low latitude supercontinent developing around 250m years from now) and Amasia (a high latitude northern supercontinent plus a smaller Antarctic subcontinent about 200m years from now).
Their results, published in Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems, show that the high altitude land on Amasia will help to promote snowfall and create ice-sheets. This bright, white supercontinent will reflect back more of the sun’s heat and have a climate more akin to the Earth’s last glacial maximum. By contrast, the more tropical Aurica will have little snow or ice and an average temperature of around 20C (68F). Understanding how Earth might evolve helps exoplanet hunters know what to look for in their search for habitable neighbouring worlds.