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Climate and geomorphology in a volatile martian landscape.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Shane
Byrne (LPL)

The martian southern residual ice cap is composed of high-albedo solid CO2 that persists throughout the year.  This solid reservoir of CO2 ice currently buffers the seasonal atmospheric pressure cycle and regulates global pressure. Surprisingly, geomorphological changes show it to be undergoing rapid erosion prompting suggestions of climate change on Mars in the absence of any obvious driving force. Here, I'll demonstrate how the rapid erosion observed today is only one part of a longer polar cap life cycle controlled by evolving surface roughness. This cycle results in continuous polar CO2 ice on Mars and that today's polar cap behavior is not indicative of climate change on Mars.

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