Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Inner Edge of Habitable Zones for Earth-sized Planets with Various Surface Water Distributions

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 19, 2019
Filed under
Inner Edge of Habitable Zones for Earth-sized Planets with Various Surface Water Distributions
Habitable planet

When planets receive insolation above a certain critical value called the runaway threshold, liquid surface water vaporizes completely, which forms the inner edge of the habitable zone.

Because land planets can emit a large amount of radiation from the dry tropics, they have a higher runaway threshold than aqua planets do. Here we systematically investigated the runaway threshold for various surface water distributions using a three-dimensional dynamic atmosphere model.

The runaway threshold for the meridionally uniform surface water distribution increases from the typical value for the aqua-planet regime (~130% S0) to one for the land-planet regime (~155% S0) as the dry surface area increases, where S0 is the present Earth’s insolation. Although this result is similar to the previous work considering zonally uniform surface water distributions, the runaway threshold for the land-planet regime is quite low compared to that of the previous work. This is because a part of the tropical atmosphere is always wet for the meridionally uniform case. We also considered the surface water distributions determined by the Earth’s, Mars’ and Venus’ topographies.

We found that their runaway thresholds are close to that for the meridionally uniform cases, and the amount of water at the boundary between an aqua- and land-planet regime is around 10% of the Earth’s ocean. This clearly shows that the runaway threshold is not determined uniquely by the luminosity of the central star, but it has a wide range caused by the surface water distribution of the terrestrial water planet itself.

Takanori Kodama, Hidenori Genda, Ryouta O’ishi, Ayako Abe-Ouchi, Yutaka Abe
(Submitted on 16 Aug 2019)

Comments: 28 pages, 12 figures, accepted for publication in Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1908.05909 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1908.05909v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Takanori Kodama
[v1] Fri, 16 Aug 2019 09:33:41 UTC (7,026 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) 🖖🏻