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Thread: Is there Global Warming on Mars?

  1. #1 Is there Global Warming on Mars? 
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    Since we all know that there's some global warming on mars, I wonder if it slowly can make this red planet a little warmer and greener.


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  3. #2  
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    I think there needs to be some clear demarcation between "global warming" as simply the literal increase in average temperature, which is evidently a cyclic thing for any planet - Earth has been tens of degrees hotter than it is now, long before there were any humans - and the warming of Earth due to human activities and the pumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    Is Mars warming up? Yes. No. What of it? The planet that has taught us what can happen is Venus, currently under investigation by ESA's Venus Express probe.


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  4. #3 Re: Is there Global Warming on Mars? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by latehorn
    Since we all know that there's some global warming on mars, I wonder if it slowly can make this red planet a little warmer and greener.
    We all know that one interpretation of certain observations is consistent with recent (geologically speaking) increases in the average temperature of Mars.

    Clearly, if Mars is warming, then that will make it .... a little warmer. Mars has quite radical variations in its temperature as a consequence of a susbtantial variations of its orbit (due to interaction with Jupiter) and inclination (due to the absence of a stabilising moon). So, if there is currently an increase, we should not be too surprised.

    I'm not sure how this warmth is going to make Mars greener, unless you feel there are chlorophyll loaded micro-organisms just waiting for the sun to come out.
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    Forum Freshman Robert M. Blevins's Avatar
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    There's no real global warming on Mars. The atmosphere is far too thin now.
    However, there is strong evidence from Orbiter photographs that liquid water is still reaching the surface of the Red Planet. When it does, it flows for a short distance, leaving trails. Then...it evaporates into the thin atmosphere.

    Liquid water once existed on the surface. Shallow seas, springs, and what is left now of the ice caps. Clouds exist there (pictures at NASA) although they are reletively thin and fleeting.

    Global warming? Venus is the classic example. Air pressure there is about 70 times greater than Earth, mostly sulfuric acid droplets in the clouds, combined with extreme CO2 levels. Temperature on the surface is hot enough to melt lead. You have to give it to the Russians that they were actually able to penetrate this hell and get surface lander photos with their Venera spacecraft...years before Viking reached Mars.

    This atmospheric scenario could be Earth...someday. :wink:
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  6. #5  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert M. Blevins
    There's no real global warming on Mars. The atmosphere is far too thin now. :
    I am slightly puzzled by this remark. If you mean the temperature cannot increase towards comforable temperatures for human habitation, then I would agree. If you mean it cannot increase by a few degrees, or more, I would disagree strongly.

    As noted above, fluctuations of the orbit and axial inclination of Mars have (and will) lead to major variations of surface temperature over geological time periods.

    Additionally, the present surface temperature is very close to the point where the volumes of carbon dioxide believed to be adhering to the regolith in mid latitudes would be released, producing a significant greenhouse effect.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Freshman Robert M. Blevins's Avatar
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    Well...even NASA doesn't have all the answers yet about the Red Planet, and they've had those Rovers going for a couple of years now. 8)

    We can sit here on Earth and debate conditions on the surface all day, but the truth is: Until we send human scientific teams to Mars, much of this is theory and conjecture.

    The axial tilt changing on Mars has been more dramatic than the Earth's, because there is no large moon there. If temperature changes are occuring on Mars, they would likely be due to changes in the amount of sunlight reaching certain portions of the planet. The thin atmosphere may not be a big factor.
    I believe Mars could be terraformed eventually, but there are initial problems. One is the amount of UV rays reaching the surface. They tend to kill plant life. We would have to develop UV-resistant algae or simple plant life to begin the process. I imagine if you took temp readings on the Martian surface in sunlit and shady spots, the readings would differ substantially.

    Three to six well-trained astronauts could learn more about Mars in a 90-120 day stay than everything we ever thought we knew.
    I'm not a scientist, an astronomer, or a geologist, and I surely don't have all the answers.

    I am merely a writer. I have written one book about a first mission to Mars, it is being released in late August. Much of it is based on research I obtained with the cooperation of JPL and amazingly...the Canadian Space Agency. I tried to stay within known parameters for the book, although I'm sure I took some literary license. However, the book is more drama and adventure than scientific treatise. 8)
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