Saturday, October 19, 2019

Weather Forecast - 120,000,000 BC

Cameron Beccario's earth animated wind map library is a fantastic way to visualize weather conditions around the globe. The library is most often used to map wind, ocean and atmospheric conditions in real-time. It has now also been used to map the climate 120 million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous.

During the Early Cretaceous or the Lower Cretaceous the Earth had a very different climate to what it has now. In particluar atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were above the levels they are today. The period was also characterized by the ongoing breakup of the super-continent Pangea. The kcm-earth 3d globe applies the Kiel Climate Model to the Earth as it looked in the Early Cretaceous. The globe presents the continents as they looked 120 million years ago and animates the modeled ocean and atmospheric conditions.

kcm-earth was created by Sebastian Steinig as part of his PhD project. You can read a little more about the project on his page on Geomar.

The super-continent of Pangea existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras, before it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. Of course there weren't any country borders on Pangea. By some estimates, however, the land mass that is now North America was attached to North West Africa. Therefore what is now the United States would perhaps have shared a border with what is now Morocco.

Pangaea Politica by Massimo Pietrobon is a rather fanciful map which overlays modern country borders on a map of Pangea. The map is at best a guesstimate of where modern countries might have been on Pangea. There are some obvious errors, for example the map includes the country of Iceland, a volcanic island which didn't exist when Pangea was around. However it is still quite good fun to imagine which modern countries might share borders today if Pangea had never broken apart.

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