3D Modelling of the Climatic Impact of Outflow Channel Formation Events on Early Mars

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 1, 2017
Filed under
3D Modelling of the Climatic Impact of Outflow Channel Formation Events on Early Mars

Mars was characterized by cataclysmic groundwater-sourced surface flooding that formed large outflow channels and that may have altered the climate for extensive periods during the Hesperian era. In particular, it has been speculated that such events could have induced significant rainfall and caused the formation of late-stage valley networks.

We present the results of 3-D Global Climate Model simulations reproducing the short and long term climatic impact of a wide range of outflow channel formation events under cold ancient Mars conditions. We find that the most intense of these events (volumes of water up to 107km3 and released at temperatures up to 320 Kelvins) cannot trigger long-term greenhouse global warming, regardless of how favorable are the external conditions (e.g. obliquity and seasons). In any case, outflow channel formation events at any atmospheric pressure are unable to produce rainfall or significant snowmelt at latitudes below 40∘N.

On the long term, for an obliquity of ∼45∘ and atmospheric pressures > 80 mbar, we find that the lake ice (formed quickly after the outflow event) is transported progressively southward through the mechanisms of sublimation and adiabatic cooling. At the same time, and as long as the initial water reservoir is not entirely sublimated, ice deposits remain in the West Echus Chasma Plateau region where hints of hydrological activity contemporaneous with outflow channel formation events have been observed. However, because the high albedo of ice drives Mars to even colder temperatures, snowmelt produced by seasonal solar forcing is difficult to attain.

M. Turbet, F. Forget, J.W. Head, R. Wordsworth
(Submitted on 26 Jan 2017)

Comments: 67 pages, 21 figures, accepted for publication in Icarus
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2017.01.024
Cite as: arXiv:1701.07886 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1701.07886v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Martin Turbet
[v1] Thu, 26 Jan 2017 21:51:03 GMT (5416kb,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) 🖖🏻