Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Climate of Earth-like ExoPlanets With High Obliquity and Eccentric Orbits

Climate of Earth-like planets with high obliquity and eccentric orbits: Implications for habitability conditions


Linsenmeier et al


We explore the effects of seasonal variability for the climate of Earth-like planets as determined by the two parameters polar obliquity and orbital eccentricity using a general circulation model of intermediate complexity. In the first part of the paper we examine the consequences of different values of obliquity and eccentricity for the spatio-temporal patterns of radiation and surface temperatures as well as for the main characteristics of the atmospheric circulations. In the second part we analyse the associated implications for the habitability of planets close to the outer edge of the habitable zone (HZ). This part of the paper focuses in particular on the multistability property of climate, i.e. the parallel existence of both an ice-free and an ice-covered climate state. Our results show that seasonal variability affects both the existence of and transitions between the two climate states. Moreover, our experiments reveal that planets with Earth-like atmospheres and high seasonal variability can have ice-free areas at much larger distance from the host star than planets without seasonal variability, which leads to a substantial expansion of the outer edge of the HZ. Sensitivity experiments exploring the role of azimuthal obliquity and surface heat capacity test the robustness of our results. On circular orbits, our findings obtained with a general circulation model agree well with previous studies based on one dimensional energy balance models, whereas significant differences are found on eccentric orbits.

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