AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 66 Mars Down to Earth
Topical Session, Wednesday, June 2, 2004, 2:30-4:00pm, 4:15-6:00pm, 707/709

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[66.04] Mars Climate History: What Do the New Results Tell Us

O.B. Toon (University of Colorado)

Mars is the only planet besides Earth in our solar system that clearly has a complex climate history. Numerous features ranging from sinuous river valleys, catastrophic flood outflows, and mountain-side gulleys point to fluvial flow throughout geologic history, yet liquid water is not thermodynamically stable on the surface of Mars. There are numerous sedimentary layers in the polar regions, and in the tropics which record variability in dust storm activity during Martian geologic history. As for Earth, variations in the planets orbit may drive many of these climate changes. However, others seem related to long-term evolution of the planets atmosphere, or of impact cratering. In this talk I will summarize the observational data for climate changes, describe the divergent theories for process that may drive changes, and suggest observational tests.

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