Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Impact of CO2 Ice Clouds on the Outer Boundary of the Habitable Zone

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
January 28, 2017
Filed under ,
Impact of CO2 Ice Clouds on the Outer Boundary of the Habitable Zone

Clouds have a strong impact on the climate of planetary atmospheres. The potential scattering greenhouse effect of CO2 ice clouds in the atmospheres of terrestrial extrasolar planets is of particular interest because it might influence the position and thus the extension of the outer boundary of the classic habitable zone around main sequence stars.

Here, the impact of CO2 ice clouds on the surface temperatures of terrestrial planets with CO2 dominated atmospheres, orbiting different types of stars is studied. Additionally, their corresponding effect on the position of the outer habitable zone boundary is evaluated. For this study, a radiative-convective atmospheric model is used the calculate the surface temperatures influenced by CO2 ice particles. The clouds are included using a parametrised cloud model. The atmospheric model includes a general discrete ordinate radiative transfer that can describe the anisotropic scattering by the cloud particles accurately.

A net scattering greenhouse effect caused by CO2 clouds is only obtained in a rather limited parameter range which also strongly depends on the stellar effective temperature. For cool M-stars, CO2 clouds only provide about 6 K of additional greenhouse heating in the best case scenario. On the other hand, the surface temperature for a planet around an F-type star can be increased by 30 K if carbon dioxide clouds are present. Accordingly, the extension of the habitable zone due to clouds is quite small for late-type stars. Higher stellar effective temperatures, on the other hand, can lead to outer HZ boundaries about 0.5 au farther out than the corresponding clear-sky values.

Clouds in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. V. The impact of CO2 ice clouds on the outer boundary of the habitable zone

Daniel Kitzmann
(Submitted on 25 Jan 2017)

Comments: accepted for publication in A&A
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1701.07513 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1701.07513v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Daniel Kitzmann
[v1] Wed, 25 Jan 2017 22:46:16 GMT (1700kb,D)

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