When will the Earth lose its oceans ?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The natural increase in solar luminosity—a very slow process unrelated to current climate warming—will cause the Earth's temperatures to rise over the next few hundred million years. This will result in the complete evaporation of the oceans. Devised by a team from the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (CNRS / UPMC / ENS / École polytechnique), the first three-dimensional climate model able to simulate the phenomenon predicts that liquid water will disappear on Earth in approximately one billion years, extending previous estimates by several hundred million years. Published on December 12, 2013 in the journal Nature, the work not only improves our understanding of the evolution of our planet but also makes it possible to determine the necessary conditions for the presence of liquid water on other Earth-like planets.

Numerical simulations of the Earth's surface temperatures at the spring equinox, with an increasingly luminous Sun in the future. The first two diagrams are obtained with the global climate model. The second one shows the situation just before the complete evaporation of the oceans. The last one (380 W/m2) is an extrapolation showing temperatures after the complete evaporation of the oceans. The dates, expressed in Myr (millions of years), indicate the Sun's evolution: in reality, the continents and topography will be totally different in this distant future. © Jérémy Leconte


Increased insolation threshold for runaway greenhouse processes on Earth like planets. Jérémy Leconte, Francois Forget, Benjamin Charnay, Robin Wordsworth, and Alizée Pottier. Nature. 12 december 2013. doi: 10.1038/nature12827

  • Jérémy Leconte, LMD/IPSL
    jeremy [dot] leconte [at] lmd [dot] jussieu [dot] fr, +1 647 895 2100
  • François Forget, LMD/IPSL
    Francois [dot] Forget [at] lmd [dot] jussieu [dot] fr, 01 44 27 47 63 et 06 71 20 07 50