Algae could have survived frozen earth

October 14th, 2011 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 14 (IANS) Glaciation could have frozen all life on earth eons ago, but simple organisms like the photosynthetic algae could have survived in a narrow water body such as the Red Sea, new research claims.

Many scientists believe earth became a giant snowball two or three times between 800 and 550 million years ago, with each episode lasting about 10 million years.

“Under those frigid conditions, there are not a lot of places where you would expect liquid water and light to occur in the same area, and you need both of those things for photosynthetic algae to survive,” said Adam Campbell, University of Washington doctoral student in earth and space sciences.

The Red Sea, which is 6.5 times longer than it is wide, would hinder the advancing glacial ice, the journal Geophysical Research Letter reports.

This would leave a small expanse of open water where the algae could survive, according to a Washington statement.

“The initial results have shown pretty well that these kinds of channels could remain relatively free of thick glacial ice during a ’snowball Earth’ event,” said Campbell.

He examined the issue using an analytical model that applied basic principles of physics to a simple set of atmospheric conditions believed to have existed at the time.

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