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Reduction of Biosphere Life Span as a Consequence of Geodynamics

S. Franck, A. Block, W. von Bloh,
C. Bounama, H. J. Schellnhuber and Y. Svirezhev
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
P.O. Box 601203, D-14412 Potsdam, Germany

Tellus 52B, 94-107 (2000)


The long-term co-evolution of the geosphere-biosphere 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 focuses on the global carbon cycle as mediated by life and driven by increasing solar luminosity and plate tectonics. The main COtex2html_wrap_inline1268 sink, the weathering of silicates, is calculated as a function of biologic activity, global run-off and continental growth. The main COtex2html_wrap_inline1268 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 Caldeira and Kasting[1], and 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.

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Next: Introduction

Werner von Bloh (Data & Computation)
Thu Jul 13 11:37:29 MEST 2000