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Earth’s climate in the distant future

A team led by Michael Way of NASA and Hannah Davies from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, used computer simulations of the movement of tectonic plates to investigate what Earth’s climate might look like in the distant future. In one scenario analyzed in the study, movement of the tectonic plates is expected to merge five of the six current continents 200 million years from now into a supercontinent called Amasia located near the North Pole—Antarctica would remain isolated in its current position at the South Pole. The climate would be characterized by enormous ice caps covering Antarctica and much of Amasia. In the other scenario, all the current continents (including Antarctica) would be united in 250 million years into one supercontinent called Aurica, located in Earth’s equatorial region. Without ice at the poles, the weather would be much warmer than in the previous scenario (Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems, July 19). According to the researchers, the results may help us understand the climate of Earth-like exoplanets and the chances that they harbor life.