Climate change and the water cycle on Mars

Foley, Lori-Ann; Lewis, Stephen and Balme, Matthew (2020). Climate change and the water cycle on Mars. In: RAS Planetary Atmospheres Meeting, 14 Feb 2020, Royal Astronomical Society, London.


The water cycle is a crucial element of the Martian climate past and present. Water, in all its forms, can have significant effects on the planet’s geological features. Understanding the role of the water cycle involves understanding how the climate has changed due to variations in the planet’s orbital parameters – obliquity, eccentricity and perihelion, which go through cycles lasting thousands to millions of years. The first phase of this research has been to run experiments with the UK version of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD) Mars Global Circulation Model, varying the obliquity over a range from 5° – 55° and placing ice sources at one or both of the poles or in the tropics. We will show what the results from these simulations tell us about the water cycle on a global scale at different times in the planet's history, focusing on where water vapour is generated, how it is transported around the planet and where it is deposited as surface ice. During the next phase of research, this data will be used to provide the boundary conditions needed by the LMD Mars Mesoscale Model to simulate the conditions in and around Lyot crater. This second phase will study the relationship between the water cycle and the crater’s geological features since its formation. It will consider whether Lyot crater has a microclimate in which water is sometimes stable and whether modelled mesoscale meteorological conditions can be related to the observed distribution of landforms, both now and in the past.

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