CO2 condensation and the climate of early Mars

James F. Kasting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

322 Scopus citations


A one-dimensional, radiative-convective climate model was used to reexamine the question of whether early Mars could have been kept warm by the greenhouse effect of a dense, CO2 atmosphere. The new model differs from previous models by considering the influence of CO2 clouds on the convective lapse rate and on the planetary radiation budget. Condensation of CO2 decreases the lapse rate and, hence, reduces the magnitude of the greenhouse effect. This phenomenon becomes increasingly important at low solar luminosities and may preclude warm (0°C), globally averaged surface temperatures prior to ∼2 billion years ago unless other greenhouse gases were present in addition to CO2 and H2O. Alternative mechanisms for warming early Mars and explaining channel formation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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