, Volume 174, Issue 1-4, pp 155-212
Date: 30 Nov 2012

Quantitative Assessments of the Martian Hydrosphere

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In this paper, we review current estimates of the global water inventory of Mars, potential loss mechanisms, the thermophysical characteristics of the different reservoirs that water may be currently stored in, and assess how the planet’s hydrosphere and cryosphere evolved with time. First, we summarize the water inventory quantified from geological analyses of surface features related to both liquid water erosion, and ice-related landscapes. They indicate that, throughout most of Martian geologic history (and possibly continuing through to the present day), water was present to substantial depths, with a total inventory ranging from several 100 to as much as 1000 m Global Equivalent Layer (GEL). We then review the most recent estimates of water content based on subsurface detection by orbital and landed instruments, including deep penetrating radars such as SHARAD and MARSIS. We show that the total amount of water measured so far is about 30 m GEL, although a far larger amount of water may be stored below the sounding depths of currently operational instruments. Finally, a global picture of the current state of the subsurface water reservoirs and their evolution is discussed.

Chapter in ISSI book “Quantifying the Martian geochemical reservoirs”.