Transient Reducing Greenhouse Warming on Early Mars

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 31, 2016
Filed under
Transient Reducing Greenhouse Warming on Early Mars

The evidence for abundant liquid water on early Mars despite the faint young Sun is a long-standing problem in planetary research.

Here we present new ab initio spectroscopic and line-by-line climate calculations of the warming potential of reduced atmospheres on early Mars. We show that the strength of both CO2-H2 and CO2-CH4 collision-induced absorption (CIA) has previously been significantly underestimated. Contrary to previous expectations, methane could have acted as a powerful greenhouse gas on early Mars due to CO2-CH4 CIA in the critical 250-500 cm^-1 spectral window region.

In atmospheres of 0.5 bar CO2 or more, percent levels of H2 or CH4 raise annual mean surface temperatures by tens of degrees, with temperatures reaching 273 K for pressures of 1.25-2 bar and 2-10% of H2 and CH4. Methane and hydrogen produced following aqueous alteration of Mars’ crust could have combined with volcanically outgassed CO2 to form transient atmospheres of this composition 4.5-3.5 Ga. This scenario for the late Noachian climate can be tested via future in situ and orbital studies of the martian crust.

Robin Wordsworth, Yulia Kalugina, Sergei Lokshtanov, Andrei Vigasin, Bethany Ehlmann, James Head, Cecilia Sanders, Huize Wang
(Submitted on 30 Oct 2016)

Comments: 3 figures, 6 pages; submitted
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1610.09697 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1610.09697v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Robin Wordsworth
[v1] Sun, 30 Oct 2016 19:33:20 GMT (367kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻