Reduction of biosphere life span as a consequence of geodynamics
VON BLOH, W.
SCHELLNHUBER, H. J.
- Publisher: Tellus B
(issn: 1600-0889, eissn: 0280-6509)
The long-term co-evolution of the geosphere–biospere complex from the Proterozoic up to 1.5 billion years into the planet's future is investigated using a conceptual earth system model including the basic geodynamic processes. The model focusses on the global carbon cycle as mediated by life and driven by increasing solar luminosity and plate tectonics. The main CO2 sink, the weathering of silicates, is calculated as a function of biologic activity, global run-off and continental growth. The main CO2 source, tectonic processes dominated by sea-floor spreading, is determined using a novel semi-empirical scheme. Thus, a geodynamic extension of previous geostatic approaches can be achieved. As a major result of extensive numerical investigations, the “terrestrial life corridor”, i.e., the biogeophysical domain supporting a photosynthesis-based ecosphere in the planetary past and in the future, can be identified. Our findings imply, in particular, that the remaining life-span of the biosphere is considerably shorter (by a few hundred million years) than the value computed with geostatic models by other groups. The “habitable-zone concept” is also revisited, revealing the band of orbital distances from the sun warranting earth-like conditions. It turns out that this habitable zone collapses completely in some 1.4 billion years from now as a consequence of geodynamics.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.2000.00898.x