Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Dependence of Biological Activity on the Surface Water Fraction of Planets

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 27, 2018
Filed under ,
Dependence of Biological Activity on the Surface Water Fraction of Planets
Habitable planet

One of the unique features associated with the Earth is that the fraction of its surface covered by land is comparable to that spanned by its oceans and other water bodies.

Here, we investigate how extraterrestrial biospheres depend on the ratio of the surficial land and water fractions. We find that worlds that are overwhelmingly dominated by landmasses or oceans are likely to have sparse biospheres. Our analysis suggests that major evolutionary events such as the buildup of O2 in the atmosphere and the emergence of technological intelligence might be relatively feasible only on a small subset of worlds with surface water fractions ranging approximately between 30% and 90%. We also discuss how our predictions can be evaluated by future observations, and the implications for the prevalence of microbial and technological species in the Universe.

Manasvi Lingam, Abraham Loeb
(Submitted on 24 Sep 2018)

Comments: 13 pages; 3 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1809.09118 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1809.09118v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Manasvi Lingam
[v1] Mon, 24 Sep 2018 18:00:03 GMT (346kb,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) 🖖🏻