Earth’s atmosphere is slowly leaking oxygen. Scientists don’t know why.
Scientists have discovered that oxygen is (very-very) slowly disappears of Earth’s atmosphere.
Image credit NASA
We and animals consume oxygen constantly, while plants they produce it as a by-product of photosynthesis. Also, oxygen is slowly ‘eaten up’ by silicate rocks.
Researcher Daniel Stolper told Maddie Stone at Gizmodo:
“We did this analysis more out of interest than any expectation. We didn’t know whether oxygen would be going up, down, or flat. It turns out there is a very clear trend.”
According to the Science:
Reconstructions of past Po2 (O2 partial pressures) rely on models and proxies but often markedly disagree. We present a record of Po2 reconstructed using O2/N2 ratios from ancient air trapped in ice. This record indicates that Po2 declined by 7 per mil (0.7%) over the past 800,000 years, requiring that O2 sinks were ~2% larger than sources.