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 Future supercontinent could wipe out humans infographic
Graphic shows details of Pangea Ultima supercontinent.


Next supercontinent formation could cause mass extinction

September 27, 2023 - The formation of a supercontinent on Earth, dubbed Pangea Ultima, could wipe out humans and any other mammals that are still around in 250m years, according to a study.

Modelling the climate of the new supercontinent, described in Nature Geoscience, Alexander Farnsworth at the University of Bristol, UK, and his colleagues found that much of Pangea Ultima will experience temperatures of higher than 40°C, making it uninhabitable to most mammalian life.

As they merge together and then drift apart, the continents will drive volcanic activity that “spews huge amounts of CO2 up into the atmosphere”, says Farnsworth, and that will heat up the planet.

Regions in the middle of the supercontinent, far from the oceans, would turn into deserts that are unliveable “expect for very specialised mammals”, says Farnsworth. The lack of moisture would also diminish the amount of silica that is washed into the oceans, which usually removes CO2 from the atmosphere.

Increased solar radiation will cause further heating. The Sun is predicted to be 2.5% more luminous at the time of Pangea Ultima’s formation.

In a worst-case scenario, just 8% of the planet’s surface – coastal and polar regions – would be habitable to most mammalian life, compared with about 66% today, the study said.

PUBLISHED: 27/09/2023; STORY: Graphic News