Setting the Atmosphere on Fire?

In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of setting the atmosphere on fire and the necessary conditions for fire to occur. It also mentions the hypothesis of how the KT extinction event occurred, with a large asteroid colliding with Earth and causing global devastation. The aftermath of this event leads to a new era on Earth, with ferns being among the first plants to start growing.
  • #1
JRDunassigned
Is it possible? As far as I know you'd need energy from a star nucleus greater than the suns to cause any change in the atmosphere, creating heavier gasses right?

Could the amount of oxygen in the air going above 30% have any impact other than fires burning longer, or any human combustion?

Just curious. Ignore the lab coat, maniacal laugh and questionable mustache
 
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  • #2
JRDunassigned said:
Is it possible? As far as I know you'd need energy from a star nucleus greater than the suns to cause any change in the atmosphere, creating heavier gasses right?

Could the amount of oxygen in the air going above 30% have any impact other than fires burning longer, or any human combustion?

Just curious. Ignore the lab coat, maniacal laugh and questionable mustache

O2 is just one side of the Fire Triangle. What are the other 2 requirements for fire?
 
  • #3
heat and fuel! you only need a spark to ignite the fumes :D
 
  • #4
JRDunassigned said:
heat and fuel! you only need a spark to ignite the fumes :D

Correct-a-mundo! So to set the atmosphere on fire, you need one tiny spark, and a huge what?
 
  • #5
BTW, just a reminder to everyone that dangerous activities are not allowed discussion topics on the PF. But we are talking non-physical stuff here, so it's sort of okay...
 
  • #6
Something like this is hypothesized during the KT extinction event 65Ma.

A 5 mile asteroid collides with earth, forming a 100 mile crater.
It ejects a large amount of material into low Earth orbit.
As this material re-enters that atmosphere, a trillion or so meteors are formed.
The meteors burn up as they fall to earth. This heats the
atmosphere to over 1000F, thereby incinerating the surface of the earth.
The Dinosaurs that survive the initial impact, earthquakes and tsunami's are
then cooked in the heat blast which last for several hours.
A global fire then continues to rage for a few days, burning all the trees and surface plants.

The dust then obscures the sun and plunges the Earth into a global winter
for a few years. After the dust clears, all the CO2 that is now in the
atmosphere results in a prolonged period of global warming.

Fish and turtles survive okay as do small burrowing creatures. Ferns are among
the first plants to start growing on the land.

The end of one era and the beginning of another.
 

Related to Setting the Atmosphere on Fire?

1. What does it mean to "set the atmosphere on fire"?

"Setting the atmosphere on fire" is a term used to describe a catastrophic event in which the Earth's atmosphere becomes so hot that it ignites and burns. This would result in widespread destruction and potentially lead to the extinction of many species.

2. Can the atmosphere actually catch on fire?

While it is technically possible for the atmosphere to catch on fire, it is highly unlikely. The Earth's atmosphere is composed of various gases that are not flammable, such as nitrogen and oxygen. Additionally, the atmosphere is constantly circulating and being replenished, making it difficult for a fire to spread.

3. What could cause the atmosphere to catch on fire?

There are a few potential scenarios that could lead to the atmosphere catching on fire. One possibility is a massive release of methane gas from the ocean floor, which could ignite and cause a chain reaction. Another possibility is a large asteroid impact, which could release enough energy to ignite the atmosphere.

4. How likely is it that the atmosphere will catch on fire?

It is extremely unlikely that the atmosphere will catch on fire in our lifetime. While there have been events in the Earth's history that have caused significant changes to the atmosphere, such as volcanic eruptions, it is unlikely that these events will occur on a scale large enough to ignite the atmosphere.

5. What would be the consequences of the atmosphere catching on fire?

The consequences of the atmosphere catching on fire would be catastrophic. It would result in widespread destruction of ecosystems and could potentially lead to the extinction of many species. The air would become toxic, making it difficult for humans and other animals to survive, and the Earth's climate would be drastically altered.

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