A zonally and annually averaged study of potential early Martian atmospheres
Schmunk, Robert Bradley
Few, Arthur A., Jr.
Doctor of Philosophy
Observations of the surface of Mars suggest a high probability of surface water activity in that planet's past. Consequently, many studies of Mars' early atmosphere have attempted to estimate the carbon dioxide level by requiring that surface temperatures be high enough to support surface liquid water. In the main, these studies have employed one-dimensional, radiative-convective climate models capable of considering only a single solar zenith angle, typically chosen to represent a global and annual average. Such models are hence not well suited for considering meridional variations in the temperature profile, which are affected by variations in the orbital obliquity and the meridional redistribution of heat by dynamic processes. I describe modifications to a more complex model, the multi-level energy balance model designed at NASA's Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences, which make it suitable for study of an atmosphere with varying carbon dioxide levels. Vertically and meridionally defined, the model includes heating and cooling by radiation, mean meridional circulation, large-scale (baroclinic) and small-scale (convective) eddies, and surface turbulent flux. I present annually-averaged results for an examination of potential atmospheres of early Mars, given that its carbon dioxide level may range from 0 to 500 Pa and the orbital obliquity from 0$\sp\circ$ to 50$\sp\circ.$ These results are compared with those obtained from a radiative-convective model.