Journal Highlights

Model explores the long-term survival of Martian ice sheets

Editor’s Highlight—

 

This paper uses a numerical model of heat diffusion in the Martian subsurface to assess the survival time of mid-latitude excess ice sheets. The authors first calculated physical temperature for a three-layer stratigraphic model using numerical heat diffusion equation, and then simulated ice sublimation based on the calculated vapor density (which depends on temperature). The results show that only decameters of ice were lost during the past 21 million years, and that retreat of mid-latitude ice could have contributed 6% of the north polar layered deposits. This paper represents a distinct step forward in terms of integrating the ice stratigraphy revealed by remote sensing with theoretical models of water vapor transport on Mars. The findings provide critical information on past climate and Martian subsurface structure, and are also important in helping to resolve the ice-deposition debate.