Field of Science

Blue Marble: 22.000 years of changing earth

"Within a few millennia our ice may be gone, but if we shall have paid a fearful price for its going. Ice at its maximum extent is disastrous, but no ice is worse. The best stage is the halfway one, where we are this blessed moment, but like others it too unstable and will not stay put. We know where we are and which way we are going, but which way we shall be going a little later we do not know."
William Jackson Humphreys (1862-1949), meteorological Physicist.

The project Blue Marble 3000 is a simulation by Adrian Meyer and Karl Rege from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences of the environment changes experienced by earth from the last Ice Age some 21.000 years ago in the past to the Anthropocene some 1.000 years in the future. The simulation is based mostly on freely accessible data of temperature, vegetation, satellite photos and topography:

10.000 to 8.000 years ago the melting ice caps frees huge amounts of water and a dramatic rise of the global sea level follows, in Europe the northern plains of the Mammoth tundra became inundated and the British islands are separated from the European mainland.
6.000 years ago nearly all of the continents of Europe and North America became free of the ice.

By changing atmospheric current patterns more moisture arrives to North Africa, the Sahara is a vast savannah with periodic large lakes until 4.000 years ago, then again a shift in the currents transform this rich environment in one of the largest deserts on earth today.
These environments remains stable for nearly further 4.000 years, then an acceleration of the retreat of the ice caps is visible. The temporal scale changes now from 500 years steps to 50 years steps to emphasize a new epoch - the Anthropocene has begun.

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