Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Effects Of Primitive Photosynthesis On Earth's Early Climate System

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 30, 2019
Filed under
Effects Of Primitive Photosynthesis On Earth's Early Climate System

The evolution of different forms of photosynthetic life has profoundly altered the activity level of the biosphere, radically reshaping the composition of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere over time.

However, the mechanistic impacts of a primitive photosynthetic biosphere on Earth’s early atmospheric chemistry and climate are poorly understood. Here, we use a global redox balance model to explore the biogeochemical and climatological effects of different forms of primitive photosynthesis. We find that a hybrid ecosystem of H2-based and Fe-based anoxygenic photoautotrophs – organisms that perform photosynthesis without producing oxygen – gives rise to a strong nonlinear amplification of Earth’s methane (CH4) cycle, and would thus have represented a critical component of Earth’s early climate system before the advent of oxygenic photosynthesis.

Using a Monte Carlo approach, we find that a hybrid photosynthetic biosphere widens the range of geochemical conditions that allow for warm climate states well beyond either of these metabolic processes acting in isolation. Our results imply that Earth’s early climate was governed by a novel and poorly explored set of regulatory feedbacks linking the anoxic biosphere and the coupled H, C and Fe cycles. We suggest that similar processes should be considered when assessing the potential for sustained habitability on Earth-like planets with reducing atmospheres.

Kazumi Ozaki, Eiichi Tajika, Peng K. Hong, Yusuke Nakagawa, Christopher T. Reinhard
(Submitted on 30 Jul 2019)

Comments: Accepted to Nature Geoscience; Final article and Supplementary Information available at this https URL
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Journal reference: Nature Geoscience 11, 55-59 (2018)
DOI: 10.1038/s41561-017-031-2
Cite as: arXiv:1907.12995 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1907.12995v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Christopher Reinhard
[v1] Tue, 30 Jul 2019 15:00:24 UTC (2,068 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻