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Unusual greenhouse gases may have raised ancient Martian temperature
Date:11/24/2013

owever, the problem with selling a warm early Mars is that nobody had been able to put forth a feasible mechanism in the past three decades. So, we hope that our results will get people to reconsider their positions."

Ramirez and post-doctoral researcher Ravi Kopparapu co-developed a one-dimensional climate model to demonstrate the possibility that the gas levels from volcanic activity could have created enough hydrogen and carbon dioxide to form a greenhouse and raise temperatures sufficiently to allow for liquid water. Once they developed the model, Ramirez ran the model using new hydrogen absorption data and used it to recreate the conditions on early Mars, a time when the sun was about 30 percent less bright than it is today.

"It's kind of surprising to think that Mars could have been warm and wet because at the time the sun was much dimmer," Ramirez said.

Mars' mantle appears to be more reduced than Earth's, based on evidence from Shergotty, Nahkla, and Chassigny meteorites, Martian meteorites named for the towns near which they were found. A more reduced mantle outgasses more hydrogen relative to water, thus bolstering the hydrogen greenhouse effect.

"The hydrogen molecule is symmetric and appears to be quite boring by itself," said Ramirez. "However, other background gases, such as carbon dioxide, can perturb it and get it to function as a powerful greenhouse gas at wavelengths where carbon dioxide and water don't absorb too strongly. So, hydrogen fills in the gaps left by the other two greenhouse gases."


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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

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