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Keeping M-Earths Habitable in the Face of Atmospheric Loss by Sequestering Water in the Mantle

Published onJun 01, 2020
Keeping M-Earths Habitable in the Face of Atmospheric Loss by Sequestering Water in the Mantle

M-Earths are Earth-like planets orbiting M-dwarfs. Planetary water is partitioned between surface oceans and the mantle. Water cycles between these reservoirs through plate-tectonic-driven regassing from surface to mantle by subduction of hydrated oceanic crust, and degassing from mantle to surface by mid-ocean ridge volcanism. Water may also be lost to space due to substantial XUV radiation from young M-dwarfs, which can photodissociate water molecules in the atmosphere and drive loss, critically impacting the planetary climate. We create a coupled model of water cycling and atmospheric loss to determine surface water content over time, and whether water sequestered within the mantle of an M-Earth can be degassed to rehydrate a desiccated surface once loss to space diminishes.

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