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Effects of Rotation Rate on the Habitability of Earth-like Planets using NASA’s ROCKE-3D GCM

Presentation #0603 in the session “Planetary Atmospheres”.

Published onMar 17, 2021
Effects of Rotation Rate on the Habitability of Earth-like Planets using NASA’s ROCKE-3D GCM

Planetary rotation rate has a significant effect on atmospheric circulation, where the strength of the Coriolis effect in part determines the efficiency of latitudinal heat transport, altering cloud distributions, surface temperatures, and precipitation patterns. In this study, we use the ROCKE-3D dynamic ocean general circulation model to study the effects of slow rotations and increased insolations on the “fractional habitability” and silicate weathering rate of an Earth-like world. Defining the fractional habitability fh to be the percentage of a planet’s surface that falls in the 0 ≤ T ≤ 100 °C temperature regime, we find a moderate increase in fh with a 10% and 20% increase in insolation and a possible maximum in fh at sidereal day lengths between 8 and 32 times that of the modern Earth. By tracking precipitation and runoff, we further determine that there is a rotational regime centered on a 4 day period in which the silicate weathering rate is maximized and is particularly strongly peaked at higher overall insolations. Because of weathering’s integral role in the long-term carbonate-silicate cycle, we suggest that climate stability may be strongly affected by the anticipated rotational evolution of temperate terrestrial-type worlds and should be considered a major factor in their study. In light of our results, we argue that planetary rotation period is an important factor to consider when determining the habitability of terrestrial worlds.


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