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Ideas about atmospheric composition and climate on the early Earth have evolved considerably over the last 30 years, but many uncertainties still remain. It is generally agreed that the atmosphere contained little or no free oxygen initially and that oxygen concentrations increased markedly near 2.0 billion years ago, but the precise timing of and reasons(More)
A decade ago, Lovelock and Whitfield raised the question of how much longer the biosphere can survive on Earth. They pointed out that, despite the current fossil-fuel induced increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration, the long-term trend should be in the opposite direction: as increased solar luminosity warms the Earth, silicate rocks should weather(More)
Large asteroid impacts produced globally lethal conditions by evaporating large volumes of ocean water on the early Earth. The Earth may have been continuously habitable by ecosystems that did not depend on photosynthesis as early as 4.44 Gyr BP (before present). Only a brief interval after 3.8 Gyr exists between the time when obligate photosynthetic(More)
Context. Thanks to remarkable progress, radial velocity surveys are now able to detect terrestrial planets at habitable distance from low-mass stars. Recently, two planets with minimum masses below 10 M⊕ were reported in a triple system around the M-type star Gliese 581. These planets are found at orbital distances comparable with the location of the(More)
Simple energy-balance climate models of the Budyko/Sellers type predict that a small (2-5%) decrease in solar output could result in runaway glaciation on the Earth. But solar fluxes 25-30% lower early in the Earth's history apparently did not lead to this result. One currently favoured explanation is that high partial pressures of carbon dioxide, caused(More)
Early in its history, Mars underwent fluvial erosion that has been interpreted as evidence for a warmer, wetter climate. However, no atmosphere composed of only CO2 and H2O appears capable of producing mean planetary temperatures even close to 0 degrees C. Rather than by precipitation, aquifer recharge and ground water seepage may have been enabled by(More)
We develop a numerical simulation of the global biogeochemical cycles of carbon that works over time scales extending from years to millions of years. The ocean is represented by warm and cold shallow water reservoirs, a thermocline reservoir, and deep Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific reservoirs. The atmosphere is characterized by a single carbon reservoir(More)
Palaeomagnetic data suggest that the Earth was glaciated at low latitudes during the Palaeoproterozoic (about 2.4-2.2 Gyr ago) and Neoproterozoic (about 820-550 Myr ago) eras, although some of the Neoproterozoic data are disputed. If the Earth's magnetic field was aligned more or less with its spin axis, as it is today, then either the polar ice caps must(More)