The nature of the residual Martian polar caps

  • Briggs G
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Abstract

A model of the behavior of the Martian polar caps is described which incorporates the heating effects of the atmosphere, as well as insolation and conduction. This model is used to try to match the observed regression curves of the polar caps, and it predicts that all the seasonally condensed CO2will be lost by around the summer solstice. The implication is that the residual caps are composed of water ice which, it is found by further modeling, should be stable during the Martian summers. However, it is also argued that this model may be too simplistic, and that the effects of wind in redistributing the seasonal condensate may lead to sufficient thickness of CO2in the central polar region to allow the year-long existence of CO2without significantly changing the retreat characteristics of the cap, and it is, therefore, concluded that at the present, the nature of the residual caps cannot be reliably determined. © 1974.

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