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Dynamical Paleoclimatology of Mars


Soto, Alejandro (2012) Dynamical Paleoclimatology of Mars. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/3D9Y-DC44.


We investigated the dynamical paleoclimatology of Mars with a focus on three areas: large scale dynamics, atmospheric collapse, and controls on precipitation and aridity of a warm, wet Mars. We explored the changes, and lack of changes, in the large scale circulation over a range of atmospheric masses. We present the results here, with an emphasis on the response of the winds and the meridional transport.

The conditions for continuous condensation of the CO2 atmospheres in the polar regions, often called 'atmospheric collapse', were explored by simulating the Martian atmosphere over a wide range of obliquities for a wide range of atmospheric thicknesses. As expected, atmospheric collapse occurs at low obliquities, but surprisingly, collapse occurs for high obliquities (up to 40◦) for moderate atmospheric thicknesses (100's of millibars up to 1000 millibars). Using the MarsWRF model, we show that a competition between atmospheric heating feedbacks, including the greenhouse feedback and the heat transport feedback, and the condensation temperature feedback determines whether atmosphere collapse occurs.

Finally, we explored the precipitation and aridity of a warm, wet Mars with an active hydrological system. Even an extremely wet climate with a northern hemisphere ocean produces an extremely dry, desert climate in the southern hemisphere, with an equatorial band of rain and run off. Cross-equatorial flows deliver moist air from the northern ocean into the southern region, but topography and the distribution of land versus ocean limit the extent of the rainfall.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Mars, climate dynamics, paleoclimate, atmospheric dynamics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Planetary Sciences
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Schneider, Tapio
Thesis Committee:
  • Ingersoll, Andrew P. (chair)
  • Schneider, Tapio
  • Ehlmann, Bethany L.
  • Bordoni, Simona
Defense Date:30 November 2011
Non-Caltech Author Email:soto97 (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Mars Fundamental Research ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:01252012-143955675
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:6778
Deposited By: Alejandro Soto
Deposited On:07 Jun 2012 21:58
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 23:54

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