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Limits on runoff episode duration for early Mars: integrating lake hydrology and climate models
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  • Gaia Stucky de Quay,
  • Timothy Andrew Goudge,
  • Edwin Stephen Kite,
  • Caleb I. Fassett,
  • Scott D. Guzewich
Gaia Stucky de Quay
University of Texas at Austin

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Timothy Andrew Goudge
University of Texas at Austin
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Edwin Stephen Kite
University of Chicago
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Caleb I. Fassett
Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA)
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Scott D. Guzewich
NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center
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Fluvio-lacustrine features on the martian surface attest to a climate that was radically different in the past. Since climate models have difficulty sustaining a liquid hydrosphere at the surface, multiple cycles of runoff episodes may have characterized the ancient Mars climate. A fundamental question thus remains: what was the duration of these runoff-producing episodes? Here we use morphometric measurements from newly identified coupled lake systems (containing both an open- and a closed-basin lake). We combined hydrological balances with precipitation outputs from climate models, and found that breaching runoff episodes likely lasted 10^2–10^5 yr; other episodes may have been shorter but could not be longer. Runoff episode durations are model-dependent and spatially variable, and no climate model scenario can satisfy a unique duration for all coupled systems. In the near future, these quantitative constraints on early Mars lake persistence may be tested through in situ observations from Perseverance rover.
Aug 2021Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 48 issue 15. 10.1029/2021GL093523