There has yet to be a consensus on the climate of early Earth. Different studies have painted it as an extremely cold snowball, while others have said that it had the unimaginable heat on the surface as it was cooling. A new study suggests that the climate of Earth was similar to its current climate.
New research may shed light on the temperature throughout Earth's early history.
Early Earth's Temperature
Researchers from the University of Washington completed an analysis of the temperature of early Earth's history. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Those who worked on the study acknowledged that theories on the temperature of this period can range wildly.
Scientists' simulations of the temperature of early Earth show that during that time, it had the same average temperature, and the seawater had a pH level roughly within one unit of being neutral.
Other studies have suggested that during the Archean period, 4 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, the temperature was low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit (-25 degrees Celsius). Estimates have also suggested that the average temperatures were as high as 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius).
This new study finds that the Earth had more moderate temperatures than were previously thought. It puts the range of temperatures at 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degree Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius). Researchers say that this would make Earth's temperature as mild during most of its existence. They say that the cause of this temperature is weathering feedbacks, which maintain a habitable climate.
Bottom Of The Sea
To get the data for the simulation carried out, scientists used recent findings of the relationship between the interactions of rocks, oceans, and air temperature. This information was then put into a simulation of Earth's temperature over the last 4 billion years.
They also included information about the weathering of the seafloor. The seabed can be eroded as seawater filters through rocks on the seafloor. This helps regulate temperature. Since there was less landmass on Earth at the time, Earth's interior was hotter than today, and the seafloor was spreading faster. This allowed more of the crust to be weathered.
Scientists were surprised with the results and kept trying to prove it wrong because of what was previously assumed about the early Earth. This could aid in the search for alien life. It shows that planets that exist in the habitable zone may be able to maintain a stable climate for lifeforms to appear. These same weathering feedbacks may be present on other planets.