Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Toho University in Japan have found that the Earth's atmosphere will become rich in methane and low in oxygen in a billion years.
This shift will return the planet to roughly the state it was in before what is known as the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) about 2.4 billion years ago.
According to the study, which was published in the journal Nature Geoscience, this will happen when the Sun becomes brighter and generates more heat.
This will lead to a decrease in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as the gas is broken down due to increased heat levels. Less carbon dioxide means fewer photosynthesizing organisms, such as plants, which will lead to less oxygen, Science Alert writes.
"The drop in oxygen is very, very extreme. We're talking about a million times less oxygen than we have today," said Chris Reinhardt of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
This will have significant consequences for life on Earth. Humans and most other forms of life that rely on oxygen to get through the day will not be able to exist in this new environment.
The study also has implications for our efforts to detect signs of life further out in the universe. Scientists have noted that oxygen is one of the most important biosignatures that can indicate the presence of life on other planets.
However, this study shows that the presence of oxygen does not necessarily mean that a planet is habitable.
"It's possible that we need to look for biosignatures other than oxygen to have the best chance of detecting life," Reinhardt said.
Earlier, scientists investigated how people will behave when they learn about the end of the world.
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