A super-continent could make planet Earth uninhabitable in 250 million years.
According to the British newspaper "The Guardian", this is the warning of scientists based on their analysis of super-continents, which are giant land masses, the place of whose formation can dramatically affect the climate of our planet.
The study carried out by the British Meteorological Office and the University of Bristol shows that the formation of super-continents will lead to mass extinctions caused mainly by "heat stress".
This would be the result of greater volcanic activity that would produce twice as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as today's levels, and would "age" our sun by causing it to emit more radiation.
The paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, is the first to attempt to form a model that can show how extreme the climate can become from this geological rearrangement.
Using a UK Met Office climate model and the University of Bristol supercomputer, the simulation also provided tectonic data on past events and data that could be useful to astronomers searching for other habitable planets.
In the era of the supercontinent "Pangea Ultima" expected to form when all the current continents merge in the distant future, temperature extremes could become dramatic, with more moisture along the coasts and extremely dry conditions in the deserts.
In this world, global temperatures could rise by 15 degrees Celsius (up to 30 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels, which would return the planet to the extreme heat experienced in the Permian-Triassic period, 260 million years ago, when more than 90% of species became extinct.
The British study notes that prolonged periods of heat above 40 degrees Celsius will exceed the endurance levels of many life forms.
Mammals have been the great evolutionary success story since the extinction of the dinosaurs, but mammals' ability to adapt to heat can be slow. This includes humans, who have been on Earth for a relatively short time.
Apart from the immediate effects of the heat, there would be serious problems with the food supply due to the collapse of the vegetation. The study notes that most plants become stressed at temperatures above 40 °C and completely decay if exposed to 60 °C for long periods.
The main author of the study, Alexander Farnsworth from the University of Bristol, talked about the possibility of another extinction like the ice age or the dinosaurs, but this time it involves humans.
"Earth has a very variable environment. Humans are very lucky for what we have now and we don't have to push our climate beyond the coldest climate we evolved to. We are the dominant species, but the Earth and its climate decide how long that will last," he said.
The study authors acknowledge that their prediction has a high level of uncertainty due to the extremely long time frame, however, they hope that the study, which began during the pandemic lockdown, will provide useful information about previous mass extinction events. and other potential habitable planets.