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Astrophysics > Earth and Planetary Astrophysics

Title: Chaos, storms and climate on Mars

Authors: Edwin S. Kite (UC Berkeley), Scot C.R. Rafkin (SwRI Boulder), Timothy Michaels (SwRI Boulder), William E. Dietrich (UC Berkeley), Michael Manga (UC Berkeley)
Abstract: Channel networks on the plateau adjacent to Juventae Chasma have the highest drainage densities reported on Mars.We model frozen precipitation on the Juventae plateau,finding that the trigger for forming these channel networks could have been ephemeral lakeshore precipitation,and that they do not require past temperatures higher than today.If short-lived and localized events explain some dendritic channel networks on Mars, this would weaken the link between dendritic valley networks and surface climate conditions that could sustain life. Our analysis uses MRAMS simulations and HiRISE DTMs.We model localized weather systems driven by water vapor release from ephemeral lakes during outflow channel formation.At Juventae Chasma,mean snowfall reaches a maximum of 0.9mm/hr water equivalent on the SW rim of the chasm.Radiative effects of the thick cloud cover raise maximum (minimum, mean) plateau surface temperatures by up to 24K(9K, 17K)locally.The key result is that the area of maximum modeled precipitation shows a striking correspondence to the mapped Juventae plateau channel networks.Three independent methods show this fit is unlikely to be due to chance.We use a snowpack energy balance model to show that if the snow has the albedo of dust(0.28), and for a solar luminosity of 0.8($\equiv$3.0Gya), then if the atmospheric greenhouse effect is unchanged from(6K warmer than)today only 0.4%(21%)of lake-induced precipitation events produce snowpack that undergoes melting.However, warming from associated dense cloud cover would allow melting over a wider range of conditions.In these localized precipitation scenarios, global temperatures need not be higher than today, and the rest of the planet remains dry.
Comments: Submitted to JGR Planets
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (physics.ao-ph); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:1101.0253 [astro-ph.EP]
  (or arXiv:1101.0253v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Edwin Kite [view email]
[v1] Fri, 31 Dec 2010 13:21:11 GMT (11325kb,D)