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Join date : 2010-09-28

PostSubject: Third atmosphere   Sun 14 Nov 2010, 5:03 pm

Third atmosphere
Oxygen content of the atmosphere over the last billion years

The accretion of continents about 3.5 billion years ago[15] added plate tectonics, constantly rearranging the continents and also shaping long-term climate evolution by allowing the transfer of carbon dioxide to large land-based carbonate storages. Free oxygen did not exist until about 1.7 billion years ago and this can be seen with the development of the red beds and the end of the banded iron formations. This signifies a shift from a reducing atmosphere to an oxidising atmosphere. O2 showed major ups and downs until reaching a steady state of more than 15%.[16] The following time span was the Phanerozoic era, during which oxygen-breathing metazoan life forms began to appear.

Currently, anthropogenic greenhouse gases are increasing in the atmosphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this increase is the main cause of global warming.[17]

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