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Effect of Mars Atmospheric Loss on Snow Melt Potential in a 3.5-Gyr Mars Climate Evolution Model

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, March 1, 2018

Megan Mansfield, Edwin S. Kite, Michael A. Mischna
(Submitted on 28 Feb 2018)

Post-Noachian Martian paleochannels indicate the existence of liquid water on the surface of Mars after about 3.5 Gya (Irwin et al., 2015; Palucis et al., 2016). In order to explore the effects of variations in CO$_{2}$ partial pressure and obliquity on the possibility of surface water, we created a zero-dimensional surface energy balance model. We combine this model with physically consistent orbital histories to track conditions over the last 3.5 Gyr of Martian history. We find that melting is allowed for atmospheric pressures corresponding to exponential loss rates of $dP/dt \propto t^{-3.73}$ or faster, but this rate is within $0.5 \sigma$ of the rate calculated from initial measurements made by the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission, if we assume all the escaping oxygen measured by MAVEN comes from atmospheric CO$_{2}$ (Lillis et al., 2017; Tu et al., 2015). Melting at this loss rate matches selected key geologic constraints on the formation of Hesperian river networks, assuming optimal melt conditions during the warmest part of each Mars year (Irwin et al., 2015; Stopar et al., 2006; Kite et al., 2017a,b). The atmospheric pressure has a larger effect on the surface energy than changes in Mars's mean obliquity. These results show that initial measurements of atmosphere loss by MAVEN are consistent with atmospheric loss being the dominant process that switched Mars from a melt-permitting to a melt-absent climate (Jakosky et al., 2017), but non-CO$_{2}$ warming will be required if $<2$ Gya paleochannels are confirmed, or if most of the escaping oxygen measured by MAVEN comes from H$_{2}$O.

Comments:    12 pages, 8 figures, accepted to JGR Planets
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
DOI:    10.1002/2017JE005422
Cite as:    arXiv:1802.10422 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1802.10422v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Megan Mansfield 
[v1] Wed, 28 Feb 2018 14:14:34 GMT (832kb,D)
https://arxiv.org/abs/1802.10422

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