Solar Variability and Climate Impact on Terrestrial Planets
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- Bertaux, J. Space Sci Rev (2006) 125: 435. doi:10.1007/s11214-006-9076-z
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Some possible factors of climate changes and of long term climate evolution are discussed with regard of the three terrestrial planets, Earth, Venus and Mars. Two positive feedback mechanisms involving liquid water, i.e., the albedo mechanism and the greenhouse effect of water vapour, are described. These feedback mechanisms respond to small external forcings, such as resulting from solar or astronomical constants variability, which might thus result in large influences on climatic changes on Earth. On Venus, reactions of the atmosphere with surface minerals play an important role in the climate system, but the involved time scales are much larger. On Mars, climate is changing through variations of the polar axis inclination over time scales of ∼105–106 years. Growing evidence also exists that a major climatic change happened on Mars some 3.5 to 3.8 Gigayears ago, leading to the disappearance of liquid water on the planet surface by eliminating most of the CO2 atmosphere greenhouse power. This change might be due to a large surge of the solar wind, or to atmospheric erosion by large bodies impacts. Indeed, except for their thermospheric temperature response, there is currently little evidence for an effect of long-term solar variability on the climate of Venus and Mars. This fact is possibly due to the absence of liquid water on these terrestrial planets.