Journal Highlights

Where Did the Water Go on Mars?

Editors' Highlight—

Primordial solar storm conditions are believed to have significantly enhanced the loss of water and other atmospheric volatiles in Mars’ history.

Liquid water used to exist on the Mars surface long ago, but no longer does today. The question is how Mars lost its atmosphere of water and other volatiles to space, and how this played a significant role in its climate evolution. A planet’s magnetic field would act as a ‘shield’ against such atmospheric losses, while solar storms and other space weather phenomena would tend to increase such losses. In the absence of a global magnetic field, the loss of Mars’ atmosphere to space could have been effective, and the escape of charged particles should have been more effective long ago. However, Ramstad et al. [2017] argue, contrary to some other published results, that primordial solar storm conditions do not significantly enhance ion escape from the Red Planet—thus putting the spotlight of Mars science back on the question of where the water had gone.

-- Andrew Yau, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters,


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Featured Special Collection

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades 

The atmosphere varies naturally on all length scales from millimeters to thousands of kilometers, and on all time scales from seconds to decades and longer.  This special collection of Geophysical Research Letters synthesizes and summarizes that variability through a phenomenological census.  The collection brings together some of the most influential and definitive papers to have been published in this journal in recent years.  The topics covered include turbulence on time scales of seconds and minutes, gravity waves on time scales of hours, weather systems on time scales of days, atmospheric blocking on time scales of weeks, the Madden–Julian Oscillation on time scales of months, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation on time scales of years, and the North Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Decadal, and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillations on time scales of decades.  The collection is accompanied by a Commentary article, which provides an authoritative, concise, and accessible point of reference for the most important modes of atmospheric variability.

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades