Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Habitability Of Earth-like Stagnant Lid Planets: Climate Evolution And Recovery From Snowball States

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 28, 2019
Filed under
Habitability Of Earth-like Stagnant Lid Planets: Climate Evolution And Recovery From Snowball States
Snowball Earth

Coupled models of mantle thermal evolution, volcanism, outgassing, weathering, and climate evolution for Earth-like (in terms of size and composition) stagnant lid planets are used to assess their prospects for habitability.

The results indicate that planetary CO2 budgets ranging from β‰ˆ3 orders of magnitude lower than Earth’s to β‰ˆ1 order of magnitude larger, and radiogenic heating budgets as large or larger than Earth’s, allow for habitable climates lasting 1-5 Gyrs. The ability of stagnant lid planets to recover from potential snowball states is also explored; recovery is found to depend on whether atmosphere-ocean chemical exchange is possible. For a “hard” snowball with no exchange, recovery is unlikely, as most CO2 outgassing takes place via metamorphic decarbonation of the crust, which occurs below the ice layer.

However, for a “soft” snowball where there is exchange between atmosphere and ocean, planets can readily recover. For both hard and soft snowball states, there is a minimum CO2 budget needed for recovery; below this limit any snowball state would be permanent. Thus there is the possibility for hysteresis in stagnant lid planet climate evolution, where planets with low CO2 budgets that start off in a snowball climate will be permanently stuck in this state, while otherwise identical planets that start with a temperate climate will be capable of maintaining this climate for 1 Gyrs or more.

Finally, the model results have important implications for future exoplanet missions, as they can guide observations to planets most likely to possess habitable climates.

Bradford J. Foley
(Submitted on 28 Mar 2019)

Comments: 38 pages, 11 figures. Accepted at Astrophys. J
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1903.12111 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1903.12111v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Bradford Foley
[v1] Thu, 28 Mar 2019 16:52:37 UTC (588 KB)

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) πŸ––πŸ»