Exploring 4 billion years of climate history

Posted by ap507 at Aug 04, 2017 02:30 PM |
Professor Jan Zalasiewicz discusses the Earth's ancient climate with The Hedgehog & the Fox

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk

What do we know about the Earth’s ancient climate, and how do we know it? What can it tell us about its – and our – possible future? Professor Jan Zalasiewicz from the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment has explored these questions with The Hedgehog & the Fox.

The interview asks if, by some miracle, we had been able to position ourselves above the Archean Earth - 4 to 2.5 billion years ago - what would we have seen? Would it have been an entirely alien vista?

In the interview Jan says: "Oh yes, and wouldn’t that be lovely? To borrow the Tardis and simply look at the Earth. One thing you could say is that the Earth would be a different colour. These were the days of no oxygen and therefore no oxidation. The colours would be shades of greys, browns, blacks, perhaps some green, but maybe not biological green, but mineral green, rather than the reds and yellows of the rust that developed when oxygen came into the atmosphere some billion or so years later.

"Also the shape of the land and the sea – plate tectonics was probably working differently then. The Earth was hotter inside. Continents might well have been smaller and moving around rather more quickly. The amount of sea in relation to land is a big unknown. Oceans are not preserved from those days. Nonetheless one has the vaguest of pictures of a different and alien planet then."

Listen to the interview below:

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Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk