(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have concluded that a seasonal imbalance in the amount of energy that Mars absorbs and emits is a likely cause of dust storms on this planet.
Research on climate change on Mars is helping to better understand the future of Earth‘s climate system, which is also characterized by seasonal energy imbalances.
Scientists from the University of Houston (USA) and their colleagues have recorded a seasonal energy imbalance on Mars – differences in the amount of energy that the planet receives from the Sun and then releases in the form of heat.
The researchers found an excess of absorbed energy during spring and summer in the southern hemisphere, which they believe may be one of the causes of dust storms.
Understanding Mars’ energy imbalance is also important for better predicting Earth’s climate, as our planet’s energy imbalance can also influence the weather, causing severe storms and hurricanes.
A thin atmosphere and a very elongated elliptical orbit make Mars extremely susceptible to temperature extremes.
The red planet absorbs a huge amount of heat as it approaches the sun, and much less energy in parts of its orbit more distant from the star. This phenomenon is known as seasonal energy imbalance.
Analyzing data on the orbit and temperature of Mars collected by NASA missions over four years, scientists have identified significant seasonal and daily fluctuations in the energy emitted by Mars.
The authors of the work came to the conclusion that the excess energy absorbed during the southern summer causes dust storms.
Seasonal energy imbalances – although not as extreme – are also observed on Earth. However, the Red Planet lacks energy storage reservoirs, such as Earth’s vast oceans, to help smooth out extreme temperature changes and balance the climate system.
There is ample evidence that Mars also once had oceans. But scientists still do not know exactly how global warming occurred on the fourth planet, which led to its complete drying.
Global warming is now happening on Earth, so research into the climate system of Mars will allow scientists to draw conclusions about our own future and the changes that await the planet.
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