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Thread: Tidally Locked Planet- Water Distribution

  1. #1 Tidally Locked Planet- Water Distribution 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Hey all! Just wanted your opinion on the water cycle that would exist on a tidally locked planet hypothetically capable of sustaining life, meaning, at least in the "habitable" zone/terminator, there would be earth-life temperatures. However, given the two extremes of hot and cold on opposite sides of the planet, what factors would come into play when considering the flow and fall [precipitation] of water? Where would the oceans need to be to supply water to this habitable zone [would the ocean have to be under the "sun/light" side for water to heat up enough to evaporate]? Where would fresh water flow? etc. etc. Any thoughts or expansions on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Washington State
    By tidally locked I assume you mean tidally locked with the sun?

    There's been some work with global circulation models under this type of scenario. Surprisingly it doesn't change as much as one might think, for example ice doesn't form over the dark side after 50 years, it doesn't get to boiling on the sunny side etc.
    Animations of tidally locked Earth

    Thicker atmospheres and deeper oceans would probably distribute temperatures even better across the globe. This suggest tidal locking doesn't automatically rule out habitability even for lifeforms we're familiar with on Earth.

    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
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  4. #3  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    I'm thinking that a watery planet capable of phase changes would resist tidal lock, because (assuming it has continents) its center of mass would be eccentric. I think you'd always have some "daily" wobble out of synch with the year, as ice sheets rise and fall.

    I wonder if certain arrangements of continents might act as valves where "pistons" of freezing/thawing water dramatically accelerate rotation?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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