Exoplanets & Exomoons

Greenhouse Gas Supplement Increases Warming And Alters Circulation Patterns On Earth and Earth-like Exoplanets

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
July 13, 2023
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Greenhouse Gas Supplement Increases Warming And Alters Circulation Patterns On Earth and Earth-like Exoplanets
Median temperature (K) differences between high and low pCO2 scenarios and median wind speeds (m s−1) for each scenario for Earth-like (a, c) and TRAPPIST-1e (b, d) ExoCAM simulations at (a, b) upper and (c, d) near-surface levels. Black and green quivers represent the high and low pCO2 scenarios, respectively. Using the Wilcoxon Rank-Sum test, lime and magenta-filled contours for wind speed and temperature represent areas not statistically significant at the 5% level, respectively. — The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the study of exoplanetary atmospheres and their potential habitability reached new heights. A team of researchers led by Dr. Assaf Hochman from the Institute of Earth Sciences at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dr. Thaddeus D. Komacek from The University of Maryland, College Park, and Paolo De Luca from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, delved into the effects of greenhouse gas supplements on temperate terrestrial exoplanets and Earth. Their findings demonstrate a parallel relationship between CO2 supplement and intensified warming in non-irradiated regions, impacting global circulation patterns.

Analyzing ExoCAM and CMIP6 model simulations, the research team discovered that the addition of CO2 leads to heightened warming in areas shielded from direct sunlight, i.e., the night side and polar regions. These localized temperature changes can bring about significant alterations in global circulation. Employing a dynamical systems framework, the researchers gained additional insights into the vertical dynamics of the atmospheres.

The study also reveals that introducing a greater supplement of CO2 into the atmosphere enhances temporal stability near the surface but decreases stability at low pressures. Surprisingly, this observation holds true for both Earth and TRAPPIST-1e, despite their distinct climate states. Dr. Assaf Hochman, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, emphasized the importance of comprehending the intricate connections between greenhouse gases and climate dynamics on both Earth and potentially habitable exoplanets.

“These findings shed light on the complex interactions between greenhouse gases and climate dynamics, offering crucial insights into the habitability of exoplanets and the potential impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on Earth’s climate,” said Dr. Assaf Hochman.

This study contributes to expanding knowledge in exoplanetary science and climate research. As the quest for habitable exoplanets continues, studying Earth’s climate dynamics becomes pivotal in identifying and characterizing potentially habitable worlds beyond our solar system.

Research Team: Dr. Assaf Hochman is a researcher at the Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Thaddeus D. Komacek is an assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy at The University of Maryland, College Park. Paolo De Luca is a Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Earth Sciences Department of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s premier academic and research institution. With over 23,000 students from 80 countries, it is a hub for advancing scientific knowledge and holds a significant role in Israel’s civilian scientific research output, accounting for nearly 40% of it and has received over 11,000 patents. The university’s faculty and alumni have earned eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal, underscoring their contributions to ground-breaking discoveries. In the global arena, the Hebrew University ranks 77th according to the Shanghai Ranking, making it the top-ranked Israeli institution. To learn more about the university’s academic programs, research initiatives, and achievements, visit the official website at http://new.huji.ac.il/en

Analogous response of temperate terrestrial exoplanets and Earth’s climate dynamics to greenhouse gas supplement, Nature (open access)


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