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The surface of Mars preserves landforms associated with the largest known water floods. While most of these megafloods occurred more than 1 Ga ago, recent spacecraft images document a phase of outburst flooding and associated volcanism that seems no older than tens of millions of years. The megafloods that formed the Martian outflow channels had maximum discharges comparable to those of Earth’s ocean currents and its thermohaline circulation. On both Earth and Mars, abrupt and episodic operations of these megascale processes have been major factors in global climatic change. On relatively short time scales, by their influence on oceanic circulation,...

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