Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Effects of variable eccentricity on the climate of an Earth-like world


Way et al


The Kepler era of exoplanetary discovery has presented the Astronomical community with a cornucopia of planetary systems very different from the one which we inhabit. It has long been known that Jupiter plays a major role in the orbital parameters of Mars and it's climate, but there is also a long-standing belief that Jupiter would play a similar role for Earth if not for its large moon. Using a three dimensional general circulation model (3-D GCM) with a fully-coupled ocean we simulate what would happen to the climate of an Earth-like world if Mars did not exist, but a Jupiter-like planet was much closer to Earth's orbit. We investigate two scenarios that involve evolution of the Earth-like planet's orbital eccentricity from 0--0.283 over 6500 years, and from 0--0.066 on a time scale of 4500 years. In both cases we discover that they would maintain relatively temperate climates over the time-scales simulated and that their regional habitability is larger than present day Earth. More Earth-like planets in multi-planet systems will be discovered as we continue to survey the skies and the results herein show that the proximity of large gas giant planets may play an important role in the habitability of these worlds. These are the first such 3-D GCM simulations using a fully-coupled ocean with a planetary orbit that evolves over time due to the presence of a giant planet.

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