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Precipitation and aridity constraints from paleolakes on early Mars

Gaia Stucky de Quay, Timothy A. Goudge and Caleb I. Fassett
Precipitation and aridity constraints from paleolakes on early Mars
Geology (Boulder) (August 2020) 48 (12): 1189-1193


The ancient climate of Mars remains an enigma despite the abundance of in situ and remote-sensing data revealing hydrological activity in the past. The crux of this debate-informed by geomorphic studies, chemical alteration observations, and numerical climate models-is the amount, distribution, and nature of surface water and precipitation (i.e., rain vs. snow). Here, we combined measurements of 96 open- and closed-basin lakes with simple hydrological balances to constrain catchment-averaged precipitation, P (sub T) , integrated over a given runoff episode of indeterminate length during early Mars history. We included 13 systems containing both open- and closed-basin lakes, providing fully bounded precipitation estimates (coupled systems). We show that, on average, P (sub T) was > or =4 m and < or =159 m; however, local precipitation was spatially variable and consistent with a complex, planetwide climate. Aridity indexes of open-basin lakes indicate some regions may have been at least as humid as semiarid terrestrial environments. Our results offer widely distributed, quantitative hydroclimate constraints that can be used to test paleoclimate model scenarios, working toward bridging the gap between geological observations and climate theory for early Mars.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 48
Serial Issue: 12
Title: Precipitation and aridity constraints from paleolakes on early Mars
Affiliation: University of Texas at Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences, Austin, TX, United States
Pages: 1189-1193
Published: 20200813
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 35
Accession Number: 2021-003215
Categories: Extraterrestrial geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Secondary Affiliation: NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 202103
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