Many of you wish you could live like a vampire, well, you just might get that chance. LiveScience.com says that one strike from an asteroid is all it takes.
According to a new study, an asteroid splashdown in one of Earth’s oceans could trigger a chemical cycle that would destroy half the ozone layer. The enormous loss of protection against the sun’s ultraviolet radiation would probably force humans into a vampire-style existence of staying indoors during the hours of daylight.
“An asteroid impact in the ocean is always dismissed as being a danger for coastal sites, but not much else has been discussed about it,” said Elisabetta Pierazzo, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. “I was looking at the asteroid hazard from climatic effects.”
To do this, Pierazzo combined simulations developed by U.S. and German atmospheric scientists that show the interactive chemistry of the atmosphere and her expertise in crater-impact modeling. They tested scenarios with a 0.6-mile (1 kilometer) asteroid and a 0.3-mile asteroid (500 meters) at a specific location and specific time of year.
And let me tell you dear readers, their findings were shocking.
Their models showed that an asteroid strike launching seawater vapor hundreds of miles up into the highest parts of the atmosphere would cause some serious ozone destruction. Chemical elements like chloride and bromide that separated from the water vapor could destroy the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from the worst UV rays.
“The thing with the asteroid is that it ejects the water vapor way up there – we’re talking hundreds of kilometers. It really goes to the highest extent of the atmosphere.”
The model results showed a 0.3-mile asteroid that hit at a latitude 30 degrees north in the Pacific Ocean in January would lead to an ozone hole that spread across the entire Northern Hemisphere. As for the 0.6-mile asteroid, a hit from that led to a worldwide drop in UV protection.
What all of this means is that if a big bad asteroid hits an ocean at a certain time in just the right way – we’d be forced into a vampire-like lifestyle. No more sunny trips to the beach, no more daytime walks through the park – none of that. We would live in eternal darkness.
I highly suggest reading all of LiveScience’s article on the subject. It takes a deeper look into the asteroid issue.
Lots of thanks to Nathaniel for sharing this article with us. You rock! On that note, all readers are welcome to send us an email with anything they would like for us to cover on the site.