Monday, November 21, 2016

The Decrease of the Habitable Zone due to Limited Carbon Dioxide Outgassing Rates




The habitable zone concept is important because it focuses the scientific search for extraterrestrial life and aids the planning of future telescopes. Recent work has shown that planets near the outer edge of the habitable zone might not actually be able to stay warm and habitable if CO2 outgassing rates are not large enough to maintain high CO2 partial pressures against removal by silicate weathering. In this paper, I use simple equations for the climate and CO2 budget of a planet in the habitable zone that can capture the qualitative behavior of the system. With these equations I derive an analytical formula for an effective outer edge of the habitable zone, including limitations imposed by the CO2 outgassing rate. I then show that climate cycles between a snowball state and a warm climate are only possible beyond this limit if the weathering rate in the snowball climate is smaller than the CO2 outgassing rate (otherwise stable snowball states result). I derive an analytical solution for the climate cycles including a formula for their period in this limit. This work allows us to explore the qualitative effects of weathering processes on the effective outer edge of the habitable zone, which is important because weathering parameterizations are uncertain.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.