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Lower Thermal Radiation Input Needed To Trigger Planetary 'Runaway Greenhouse' 137

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the poor-venus dept.
vinces99 writes with this excerpt from the UW news service: "It might be easier than previously thought for a planet to overheat into the scorchingly uninhabitable 'runaway greenhouse' stage, according to new research (abstract, article paywalled) by astronomers at the University of Washington and the University of Victoria. In the runaway greenhouse stage, a planet absorbs more solar energy than it can give off to retain equilibrium. As a result, the world overheats, boiling its oceans and filling its atmosphere with steam, which leaves the planet glowing-hot and forever uninhabitable, as Venus is now. One estimate of the inner edge of a star's 'habitable zone' is where the runaway greenhouse process begins. The habitable zone is that ring of space around a star that's just right for water to remain in liquid form on an orbiting rocky planet's surface, thus giving life a chance. Revisiting this classic planetary science scenario with new computer modeling, the astronomers found a lower thermal radiation threshold for the runaway greenhouse process, meaning that stage may be easier to initiate." If correct, the habitable zone shrinks a bit and a few exoplanets might lose their potentially habitable status. And the Earth will leave the habitable zone in a billion and a half or so years as the Sun gets brighter.
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Lower Thermal Radiation Input Needed To Trigger Planetary 'Runaway Greenhouse'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 29, 2013 @07:48PM (#44418345)

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I found the last two lines of the summary to be quite anticlimactic. Where's the fear-mongering?

  • I don't know about the rest of you, but I found the last two lines of the summary to be quite anticlimactic. Where's the fear-mongering?

    Well, it seemed pretty terrifying to me. I'm not sure what kind of plans you've been making, but this significantly moves up my time tables. Now we'll probably have to completely abandon Earth instead of preserving any as a museum for the origin of life. Well, at least we can take the gene sequences...

    Now it'll be much more of a smash and grab to get as many resources and mechanizations manufactured from the asteroid belt before we bolt for a new star-system. All but the first few percent of the plan will have to be re-calculated! Finding a younger destination star means taking a bigger risk with its instability, or planning an additional interstellar hop to last out the rest of the 4 billion years till the Andromeda Galaxy merges with this one. I mean, of course revisions are planed and there's some uncertainty to iron out as the future nears, but now Everything is Gorked! It might just turn out to be a complete cut and run to drift the nearest nebula and suck up the frigging dust dregs!

  • by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Monday July 29, 2013 @09:58PM (#44419179)

    Earth says: "I didn't leave the habitable zone. The habitable zone left me!"

One small step for man, one giant stumble for mankind.

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