The Earth’s atmospheric oxygen sharply dropping
The Earth’s atmospheric oxygen is “dropping sharply” and can take the planet back to the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) that had occurred around 2.4 billion years ago.
A new research study revealed that oxygen is unlikely to be a permanent part of Earth’s atmosphere, suffocating most forms of life on the planet.
The study was presented by Kazumi Ozaki from Toho University, Japan, and Chris Reinhard from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. They used biochemistry and climate model to measure the timescale of oxygen on Earth.
They noticed that the life-supporting gas is “unlikely” to be a permanent feature of the habitable world. The research has been published in Nature Geoscience.
“We find that the Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere will not be a permanent feature,” Ozaki said in the paper.
The process could occur in about one billion years or so. Although it sounds like an extremely long time span, as the event starts, it will unfold relatively quicker.
As per the researchers’ calculations, the atmosphere “could run out of its oxygen over the course of just 10,000 years or so.”
The cause of earth’s deoxygenation
This is an “inevitable consequence” the researchers added. Changes in the Earth’s biosphere (planetary carbonate–silicate cycle) will largely affect the Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.
This in turn will result in less photosynthesis in plants, hence, lesser oxygen.
The process will lead to the emergence of anaerobic and primitive bacteria; currently hiding in the shadows, Reinhard said.
“The biosphere cannot adapt to such a dramatic shift in environmental change,” Ozaki added.
The results of the study emphasized the need for “robust atmospheric biosignatures” applicable to weakly oxygenated and anoxic exoplanet atmospheres, which will be of significant importance during the terminal stages of planetary habitability.