When will the world run out of oxygen?2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
All forms of life on earth need oxygen to survive. So, this question concerns us all.
Scientists, always being a step ahead, have found the answer!
In 1 billion years!
Researchers at the Toho University and NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science have found evidence that Earth will lose its oxygen-rich atmosphere in close to 1 billion years! This means that in 1 billion years, the planet will no longer be able to support plants and animals. Oxygen is what scientists look for as they search for life on exoplanets. But oxygen on Earth might itself be a guest for only 20-30% of the planet’s life!
The research was published as The Future Lifespan of Earth’s Oxygenated Atmosphere in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Earlier research on Earth’s biosphere used scientific knowledge about the the increasing brightness of the sun and the global geochemical cycles. This approach is accompanied by decreasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increasing global warming. No carbon dioxide means no photosynthesis (the process of food creation by plants), an no photosynthesis means no plants. According to this research, earth’s biosphere will be all but gone in 2 billion years due to overheating and the absence of CO2. Oxygen depletion will also follow suit.
But the timeline for that has always been uncertain.
In the new research released on March 1, the team of researchers created a combined biogeochemistry and climate model to examine the timescale of an oxygen rich atmosphere. The Earth system model they created simulated geochemical and climate conditions of the planet. They ran the model 4,00,000 times to track the oxygen presence in the model’s atmosphere. It revealed that after 1 billion years, the sun will grow hotter, and earth’s atmosphere will be deoxygenated.
A deoxygenated atmosphere will have more methane, less carbon dioxide and no ozone layer!
Earth only started supporting life as we know it 3.5 billion years ago.
Even though 1 billion years might seem really far away, but our actions now will contribute to this depletion. So, we need to be careful, right away!
A billion years can be gone in a flash. It was only yesterday that Neanderthals were trying to speak, and Mammoths were leaving behind the oldest DNA! Here’s a retrospective quiz on life on Earth with all that Owliver has brought to you!