Closer Look, FAQ, Solar Influence

A Closer Look: Warming on Mars

Isn’t Mars experiencing global warming as well?

To answer a question with a question, does it matter?

If Mars is experiencing warming on a global scale, the only reason to discuss it alongside planetary warming on Earth is to attribute both warming trends to a common source, namely the Sun. However, as discussed in the related post, “Isn’t the Sun driving current climate change?”, the output of the Sun has not increased noticeably over the last 30 years of direct observation.

The discussion of solar climate forcing also detracts from the much more obvious fact that Mars is a completely different planet from Earth. Mars is a unique planet with vastly different compositions to its atmosphere, wind currents, orbital variations, rotational characteristics, weather patterns, and so on. In other words, at any given time, the Martian climate is exposed to forcings that are literally a world away from those impacting Earth. The two planets could be warming concurrently, cooling concurrently, or going in completely opposite directions based on purely natural influences. As a result, there is little validity in drawing a parallel between the two planets to deduce a cause of warming here on Earth.

Due to the vastly different composition of the Martian atmosphere, it is prone to massive dust storms that can greatly affect planetary temperatures. These dust storms also impact the albedo of the Martian surface, enabling the planet to retain more heat without a concurrent rise in solar output. And it is these atmospheric characteristics of Mars that are being found responsible for the recently observed melting of the polar ice caps on that planet.

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The Consensus

173 professional scientific organizations (and counting) around the world acknowledge the global impact of rising emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities

The Indicators

Climate Change Indicators Climate Change Indicators NASA GISS - Global Annual Mean Surface Air Temperature ChangeGlobal Temperature Sea level change from 1993 to the present day Global Sea Level Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Anomaly, 1979-Present Arctic Ice Melt Glacial Retreat, 1980-2010 Glacial Retreat Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations, Mauna Loa Atmospheric CO2 Level
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