Earth and Mars: Evolution of Atmospheres and Surface Temperatures

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Science  07 Jul 1972:
Vol. 177, Issue 4043, pp. 52-56
DOI: 10.1126/science.177.4043.52


Solar evolution implies, for contemporary albedos and atmospheric composition, global mean temperatures below the freezing point of seawater less than 2.3 aeons ago, contrary to geologic and paleontological evidence. Ammonia mixing ratios of the order of a few parts per million in the middle Precambrian atmosphere resolve this and other problems. Possible temperature evolutionary tracks for Earth and Mars are described. A runaway greenhouse efect will occur on Earth about 4.5 aeons from now, when clement conditions will prevail on Mars.

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