- Earth is projected to form a new supercontinent, similar to Pangea, in about 200 million years.
- Four potential scenarios exist for this supercontinent: Novopangea, Pangea Proxima, Aurica, and Amasia.
- The different scenarios have varying impacts on Earth’s climate and ecosystems.
- The closure of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the Aurica scenario could lead to a warmer Earth with unique coastlines.
- The Amasia scenario, with continents congregating around the North Pole, could result in extreme glaciation and mass extinctions.
The prehistoric supercontinent Pangea, which once united all seven continents, disbanded around 200 million years ago. Surprisingly, scientists predict that a new supercontinent will emerge within a similar time frame. In a study outlined in Geological Magazine (2018), four potential scenarios for this supercontinent’s development are explored.
One possibility, termed “Novopangea,” envisions the Atlantic Ocean expanding while the Pacific Ocean contracts. This leads the Americas to collide with Antarctica and subsequently Europe, Africa, and Asia. Alternatively, “Pangea Proxima” suggests the Atlantic and Indian Oceans extending until new subduction zones draw continents together, forming a ring-shaped landmass.
Aurica, derived from “Australia” and “America,” is another prospect. If the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans close, and the Indian Ocean opens, a supercontinent could arise along the equator. Lastly, the “Amasia” theory proposes the Arctic Ocean’s closure, causing continents except Antarctica to cluster around the North Pole.
While these scenarios offer insights into future geography, their climatic consequences are profound. Research in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (2021) examined the impacts of Aurica and Amasia on climate using 3D global models. Amasia, with polar land masses separated, disrupts ocean currents, leading to year-round ice coverage. In contrast, Aurica’s equatorial positioning could yield warmer temperatures and altered coastlines.
However, predicting life’s response to these changes poses challenges. Alex Pullen, an environmental engineering and earth sciences expert, highlights uncertainties tied to future vegetation, volcanic emissions, greenhouse gases, and aerosols. Despite these hurdles, scientists recognize Earth’s resilience throughout its history.
In contemplating the distant future, questions arise about human evolution and intelligence. João C. Duarte cautions against assuming intelligence always yields progress, citing the potential for self-destructive tendencies. To ensure a harmonious future for post-human species, collaboration with the surrounding ecosystem is essential.
Although these transformations lie centuries away, Earth is already in the midst of subtle yet continuous change. Plate movements, mountain formations, and seismic activities continue to shape the planet, signifying an ongoing planetary transition. While humanity might not directly experience this upcoming supercontinent’s birth, its impact echoes throughout Earth’s perpetual evolution.
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