Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate model for Earth also describes changes on Mars

26.09.2002


Orbit affects climate on Mars similar to the way it affects climate on Earth, say three scientists, who used a model of climate change on Earth to explain the layers of deposits in the polar regions of the Red Planet.


An image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the full disk of Mars. Clouds and weather can be seen at the poles. [Image: NASA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScl/AURA) Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 STScl-PRC01-24].


This image, from an exposure of layers in the North Pole of Mars, is the actual image used in the analysis. Mustard and his colleagues say the alternating bright and dark bands are due to changes in climate recorded in these layers. The image is of an area about a mile across. [Image: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems].



Their study appears in the Sept. 26 issue of Nature, and suggests that a climate change theory for Earth can also be applied to Mars and possibly to other Earth-like planets.

“The orbital theory of climate change has been successful in explaining changes in the Earth’s climate, and we have used cores of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps to reconstruct past climates and atmospheres on Earth,” said author Jack Mustard, associate professor of geological sciences at Brown University. “This means that we can now use the Mars caps in a similar way.”


The study also produced “a much better constraint on the time required to form the layers on the polar cap of Mars,” he said. “This has importance in understanding the Martian climate, and also the water cycles and history. We have so little information on the rates of change on Mars, but this gives us a solid marker.”

Besides Mustard, the other two authors of the study are Jacques Laskar and Benjamin Levrard of the Astronomie et Systèmes Dynamiques in Paris.

The trio used orbital calculations and rotational parameters of Mars, new high-resolution images of its north pole terrain, and high-resolution topography data to correlate exposed layers of ice and dust with changes in climate, particularly the sum of solar radiation reaching the terrain. Their techniques mirrored those used for orbital-based climate studies on Earth.

Changes in the ratio of dust and ice over time are visible in the variations of brightness seen in the layers of polar deposits on Mars. First noticed in the earliest Mars missions, the layers were thought to be related to changes in climate possibly linked with the evolution of Mars’ orbit such as the tilt of the axis and deviations in circularity. But the image resolution of past data was insufficient to resolve such key details.

High-resolution images from the Mars Global Surveyor allowed Mustard to resolve the fine detail and analyze the patterns. “After correcting the observations for topography, we produced a measure of the brightness of the layers as a function of depth,” he said. “We assume that depth equals time and thus can peer into the past. We then compared this record with the predicted amount of sunlight received at the pole over the last 10 million years, which varies with orbital evolution involving tilt and circularity.”

The researchers’ goal was to determine whether the sunlight record at the north polar cap of Mars correlated with the brightness-depth profile, and over what time frame. If the record correlated, that would solidify their hypothesis that the layers are due to climate changes related to orbit and allow the researchers to determine the formation rate of the layers.

“Indeed we find an excellent correlation and show that the 350-meter thick package of layers formed within the last 1 million years or so,” Mustard said. For the most recent 250-meter thick deposit of the north ice polar cap, the researchers found an average deposition rate of 0.05 cm/yr. “For the first time, we showed that the orbital theory of climate change has a record in the polar deposits on Mars.”

In orbit, Earth tilts about 23-25 degrees. In contrast, Mars tilts as little as 15 degrees and as much as 40 degrees, which is enough to redistribute moisture from polar caps to equatorial regions, Mustard said. In the 1970s, research by geologists at Brown first showed an orbital effect on climate change for Earth.

“This study further ties Mars and Earth as similar planets and strengthens the foundations to compare their climates and orbital evolutions,” Mustard said. “Showing that a planet with as strange an orbit as Mars has climate changes recorded in its surface means we have a tool in this orbital driver to explore what happens on the surface of planets with differences and similarities to Earth. And as we learn more about deposits on Mars we can compare what we find with what we know about Earth.”

The Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique Programme Nationale de Planétologie and NASA’s Solar System Exploration programs supported the research.

Scott Turner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

nachricht Thawing permafrost releases old greenhouse gas
19.07.2017 | GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>