Implications of Solar Evolution for the Earth's Early Atmosphere

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  09 Dec 1977:
Vol. 198, Issue 4321, pp. 1035-1037
DOI: 10.1126/science.198.4321.1035


The roughly 25 percent increase in luminosity over the life of the sun shared by many different solar models is shown to be a very general result, independent of the uncertainties suggested by the solar neutrino experiment. Superficially, this leads to a conflict with the climatic history of the earth, and if basic concepts of stellar evolution are not fundamentally in error, compensating effects must have occurred, as first pointed out by Sagan and Mullen. One possible interpretation supported by recent detailed models of the earth's atmosphere is that the greenhouse effect was substantially more important than at present even as recently as 1 billion to 2 billion years ago.