The Effect Of Land Albedo On The Climate Of Land-Dominated Planets In The TRAPPIST-1 System

By Keith Cowing
November 10, 2020
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The Effect Of Land Albedo On The Climate Of Land-Dominated Planets In The TRAPPIST-1 System

Variations in the reflective properties of the bulk material that comprises the surface of land-dominated planets will affect the planetary energy balance by interacting differently with incident radiation from the host star.

Furthermore, low-mass cool stars, such as nearby M8V dwarf TRAPPIST-1, emit a significant fraction of their flux in longer wavelengths relative to the Sun in regions where terrestrial materials may exhibit additional variability in albedo. Using the Community Earth System Model (CESM) we investigate the effect of the composition of the land surface and its albedo on planetary climate in the context of spatially homogeneous, entirely land-covered planets with dry atmospheres at the orbital separation of TRAPPIST-1d, TRAPPIST-1e, and TRAPPIST-1f.

We use empirically derived spectra of four terrestrial compositional endmembers (granite, calcite, aridisol, and dune sand) and a composite spectrum of TRAPPIST-1 for these simulations and compare these model output to an aquaplanet and several Sol-spectrum control cases. We report a difference of approximately 50 K in global mean surface temperature, variations in atmospheric rotational features, and a reduction in cross-equatorial heat transport between scenarios in which materials with higher albedo in the infrared (calcite and dune sand) were used and those with more absorptive crustal material, such as granite or dry soils.

An aquaplanet TRAPPIST-1d scenario results in an unstable runaway greenhouse regime. Therefore, we demonstrate that determining the composition and albedo of continental landmasses is crucial for making accurate determinations of the climate of terrestrial exoplanets.

Andrew J. Rushby, Aomawa L. Shields, Eric T. Wolf, Marysa Laguë, Adam Burgasser

Comments: 18 pages, 11 figures. Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ)
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2011.03621 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2011.03621v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Andrew Rushby
[v1] Fri, 6 Nov 2020 22:34:53 UTC (13,895 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) 🖖🏻