Geneva – An increase of a few tens of degrees in the Land would unleash a “greenhouse effect runaway” and would make the planet as uninhabitable as Venus, warns research from the University of Geneva published today.
The study, carried out using simulated 3D planet models and in which experts from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) also participated, shows that The difference between a planet capable of harboring life and one in which it is impossible is smaller than one might think, just a few degrees.
In the simulation, a planet similar to the Earth’s was created, with oceans and life, in which a temperature change of a few tens of degrees triggers a chain reaction that quickly changes the situation of the star, the Geneva university highlights in a statement.
“An evaporation of just 10 centimeters on the surface of the ocean would lead to an increase of 1 bar in atmospheric pressure, and in just a few hundred years a surface temperature of 500 degrees would be reached”explained the professor of the Department of Astronomy of the university Guillaume Chaverot, leader of the study.
The evolution would continue until reaching atmospheric pressures of up to 273 bars and temperatures of 1,500 degrees, in which the water in the oceans would be completely evaporated.added the expert.
With this study, which is published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the experts seek to get closer to the process of the so-called “runaway greenhouse effect”, since until now other works on it had focused on the before or after, but not in the “during”.
This greenhouse effect “can transform a planet from idyllic and perfect for life to one that is harsh and hostile,” says the University of Geneva.
Scientists have studied this hypothetical rise of tens of degrees associated with a possible future increase in the Sun’s luminous intensity, although they wonder if the consequences would be similar if the rise in temperatures had other causes, such as increased concentrations. of CO₂ and other gases that also produce the greenhouse effect.
Scientists clarify that, in moderation, the greenhouse effect caused by water vapor, for example, is useful, since “without it, the Earth would have an average temperature below the freezing point of water” and life on it would also be impossible. .
The research aims to serve above all to analyze the possibilities of life on exoplanets (planets outside our Solar System), observing whether their cloud cover patterns would be similar to those of Earth, perhaps making them habitable, or whether they would already show signs of “runaway greenhouse effects.”
Two researchers from the University of Geneva, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, discovered the first exoplanet in 1995, which earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2019.