Formation of Glaciers on Mars by Atmospheric Precipitation at High Obliquity

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Science  20 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5759, pp. 368-371
DOI: 10.1126/science.1120335

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Surface conditions on Mars are currently cold and dry, with water ice unstable on the surface except near the poles. However, geologically recent glacierlike landforms have been identified in the tropics and the midlatitudes of Mars. The ice has been proposed to originate from either a subsurface reservoir or the atmosphere. We present high-resolution climate simulations performed with a model designed to simulate the present-day Mars water cycle but assuming a 45° obliquity as experienced by Mars a few million years ago. The model predicts ice accumulation in regions where glacier landforms are observed, on the western flanks of the great volcanoes and in the eastern Hellas region. This agreement points to an atmospheric origin for the ice and reveals how precipitation could have formed glaciers on Mars.

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