Scientists: Mars Has A 95% CO2 Atmosphere…But ‘There Is Little To Retain Heat On The Planet’

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Earth’s atmosphere contains 400 ppm CO2 (0.04%). Mars has a 950,000 ppm (95%) CO2 atmosphere. But Mars has surface temperatures that are about -75°C colder on average than Earth’s because atmospheric density, or pressure, is the “game changer” largely determining planetary temperatures.

Image Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Surface temperatures on Mars

The average surface temperature of a planetary body is significantly determined by its distance from the Sun.

According to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mars is close enough to the Sun to have its surface temperatures reach 35°C (95°F) at the equator during summer.

During winter, however, the Martian temperature dips to -90°C (-130°F).

The average surface temperature for Mars is about -60°C (-80°F).

Image Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Atmospheric composition of Mars vs. Earth

Both Venus and Mars have atmospheres that contain over 95% CO2.

In contrast, Earth’s atmosphere contains just over 0.04% CO2.

Image Source: Space.com

Extreme temperature swings on Mars

While the solar heat reaching Mars can warm its surface by up to 35°C, about 8-11°C (15-20°F) of that incident heat will be lost to space just 1.5 meters from the surface (Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, 2018).

“There might be a 15-20 degree temperature change between where your feet are and where your head is if you were standing on Mars.”

Nights and winters are unfathomably cold, whereas daytime summer temperatures can be similar to or warmer than Earth’s.

As atmospheric scientist Dr. Matthew Shindell points out, the reason for this wide variance in temperature extremes is that “there is little to retain heat on the planet” despite Mars’ 950,000 ppm CO2 atmosphere.

Image Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, 2018

Atmospheric density, or pressure, is the “big game changer”

Mars’ thin atmospheric denisity, or pressure (AP), reaches just 0.006 bar. Earth’s AP is 1 bar. The AP for Venus is 92 bar.

Image Source: ScienceDaily, 2017

Consequently, the Mars, Earth, and Venus surface temperatures average -60°C, 15°C, and 462°C, respectively.

Interestingly, on the summit of Venus’s Maxwell Montes the AP drops from 92 bar to 45 bar. In turn, the surface temperature plummets by -82°C even though the CO2 concentration (96%) is the same at both locations.

Image Source: Universe Today

Mars’ 0.006 bar AP is referred to as the “big game changer” in explaining why its surface is so cold on average. The atmospheric greenhouse gas composition – effectively the same (95-96% CO2) for both Mars and Venus – does “little to retain heat”.

In sum,  a planet’s relative warmth can be enhanced “due to an increase in atmospheric mass” or in its capacity to retain heat (Chemke et al., 2016), and temperatures are cooler if there is “a decline in atmosheric pressure” (Sorokhtin et al., 2007).

Image Source: Chemke et al., 2016

Image Source: Sorokhtin et al., 2007

Does the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis have a Mars problem?

Again, despite Mars’ very high CO2 concentration, “there is little to retain heat on the planet”.

This conclusion would appear to undermine the AGW claim CO2 levels are a planet’s temperature control knob.

So the summarizing question is this. Why is Earth’s CO2 concentration of 0.03% to 0.04% considered both determinative and dangerous as a climate control mechanism if (a) relative planetary warmth is largely dependent on atmospheric density and (b) even a 95% CO2 concentration on Mars effectively doesn’t retain planetary heat?

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40 responses to “Scientists: Mars Has A 9540 CO2 Atmosphere…But ‘There Is Little To Retain Heat On The Planet’”

  1. another Jim

    Partial pressure CO2 on Mars 0.08265 PSI
    Partial pressure CO2 on Earth 0.006 PSI

    Mars has 13.7 times the CO2 blanket of earth. If CO2 causes a greenhouse effect, Mars should be baking hot. So, no greenhouse!

    1. Brian G Valentine

      Global warmers I have spoken with agree with this fact yet REFUSE to reject AGW –

      I have no explanation

      ?

      1. David Appell

        Explanation? Pressure and density.

        Read *ANY* climate science textbook. I recommend Pierrehumbert or Dessler.

        1. Brian G Valentine

          David, I have neither time nor patience for junk science.

          The tomes you mention are excuses for phenomena that do not exist.

          1. David Appell

            Brian, make sure you keep your mind unfeed. Afraid of learning?

    2. Adrian

      You also have to take into account the fact that gravity is lower for Mars.

      1. Brian G Valentine

        Gravity influences atmospheric temperature as a function of height above the surface (barometric formula), and what else?

        1. Brian G Valentine

          I should note, gravity has influenced the Martian atmospheric composition; Martian gravity is too weak to retain any gas with molecular weight lower than 40 within cosmic time, anyway

  2. BobW in NC

    Missing from this interesting analysis is the role of water vapor? NTZ had an interesting piece recently showing that CO2 retained LIR for only microfractions of a second. Water vapor is far more efficient in doing so. I believe both Mars and Venus have very little?

  3. Paul Aubrin

    According to the numbers you gave, the partial pressure of CO2 on Mars is 0,0006 atmosphere. That is nearly the double of the “pre-industrial” partial pressure of CO2 on Earth. Mars should be boiling.

  4. A.B. O'Brien

    Under the Smithsonian heading “Today, Mars is warmer than Earth …”, in the second paragraph there is the sentence that says that the atmospheric pressure (AP) on Mars is “one sixth” of that of the Earth. I believe this is not correct as the AP on the surface of Mars varies between 6 and 10 millibars.

  5. A. O'Brien

    Sorry, should have added that other than that I enjoyed the article.

  6. Zoe Phin

    Have to disagree with Chemke. Atmospheric mass does not raise surface temperature.

    1. Stephen Wilde

      Zoe,

      Atmospheric mass alone does not raise the surface temperature but once convective overturning takes place (inevitable) the surface temperature does rise.
      See the paper by Mulholland and Wilde:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/06/27/return-to-earth/

      1. Zoe Phin

        Steven,
        Cold molecules fall, hot molecules rise. How much they rise and fall is determined by height. And how much height there is is determined by how much outgassing was caused by geothermal and solar influence.

        Sorry, but backconvection is not why the surface is hotter beyond the sun. That is caused by geothermal.

        1. Stephen Wilde

          Sorry, but that is incoherent.
          Read the paper.

          1. Zoe Phin

            It takes energy to lift up an atmosphere. You want to reverse this energy and claim it heats back the surface. I think you’re incoherent. Fourier was wrong. Neither the atmosphere nor anything in it makes the surface warmer.

          2. Zoe Phin

            Steve,
            That just means that solar + geothermal exceeds the 398 W/m^2 indicated by the energy budget. It may actually be 503 W/m^2 as indicated by both input and output of the atmosphere in the energy budget. This just meand
            s that the 340.3 W/m^2 is not from “backradiation” but from geothermal. They did a geothermal fliperoo.

            More info:
            https://phzoe.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/measuring-geothermal-1/

        2. Stephen Wilde

          Descending air warms up without any input from solar or geothermal.
          Energy is transformed (not created) from PE which does not register as heat to KE which does register as heat.
          It must be accounted for.
          The reverse process in rising air is included in the Trenberth cartoon but he fails to include the descent phase.

          1. Zoe Phin

            That’s funny, Steve.

            http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Kinetic/Maxdev.html#c1

            “Molecules which are higher in the atmosphere are there ultimately because they had a higher kinetic energy to convert into gravitational potential energy on some time scale. ”

            KE was converted to PE, but now you want to reverse the process and claim PE adds to KE, while keeping the atmosphere aloft?

            Seems strange to me. KE was needed to create the atmosphere (and PE). Where did the KE come from for the PE? I think it’s from 59% geothermal and 41% solar.

            I think you would enjoy my latest article:
            https://phzoe.wordpress.com/2019/12/04/the-case-of-two-different-fluxes/

          2. Stephen Wilde

            Zoe,
            An atmosphere does not simply get lifted aloft and stay put.
            At any given moment half is rising and half is descending.
            Such convective overturning cannot be prevented due to the inevitability of temperaure and density differences in the horizontal plane arising due to uneven surface heating.
            You constantly have new PE being created from KE at the surface beneath rising air and the reverse beneath descending air.
            Since both processes equal out at hydrostatic equilibrium the total PE content stays the same and the atmosphere is able to stay aloft.

          3. Zoe Phin

            Yes,
            And that’s why there is no extra warming from the atmosphere or anything in it.

          4. Stephen Wilde

            You need extra warming at the surface to keep convective overturning going whilst at the same time radiating as much to space as comes in from space.

          5. Zoe Phin

            Steve,
            That just means that solar + geothermal exceeds the 398 W/m^2 indicated by the energy budget. It may actually be 503 W/m^2 as indicated by both input and output of the atmosphere in the energy budget. This just means that the 340.3 W/m^2 is not from “backradiation” but from geothermal. They did a geothermal fliperoo.

            More info:
            https://phzoe.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/measuring-geothermal-1/

  7. Stephen Wilde

    This recent paper and other papers linked to it describe in detail the mechanism (never previously described) whereby atmospheric mass causes the surface temperature enhancement for every planet with an atmosphere:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/06/27/return-to-earth/

  8. Stephen Wilde

    Sorokhtin et al are correct that the raised surface temperature is caused by adiabatic processes but they are wrong to suggest that convection expels heat to space from within the atmosphere.
    The model created by Mulholland and Wilde shows that since the raised surface temperature can occur beneath a completely non radiative atmosphere all loss to space must go from the surface.
    What happens is that the heat lifted from the sunlit surface is transported to the dark side and convected back to the ground where it escapes to space a little while later and it is the delay introduced by that process which raises surface temperature.

  9. RickWill

    Few people realise that top of atmosphere solar insolation at zenith varies by 85W/sq.m annually – for 2019 from 1319W/sq.m to 1402W/sq.m. That variation, combined with the axis obligatory and location of surface water, cause the atmospheric water vapour to cycle over a significant range each year. In 2018 the global average water column ranged from 17mm in January to 22mm in July. Over the same period globally averaged outgoing long wave radiation increased from 236.8W/sq.m to 243.9W/sq.m. They both then cycled down. In 2018, each added mm of water vapour increased OLR by 1.6W/sq.m and each mm reduction in water vapour reduced OLR by 1.6W/sq.m.

    This is the actual monthly data from NASA Earth Observations for 2018:
    Mnth-TPW- OLR
    Jan 17.04 236.8
    Feb 17.29 236.5
    Mar 17.73 237.9
    Apr 18.19 238.7
    May 20.40 240.6
    Jun 20.92 243
    Jul 21.89 243.9
    Aug 21.04 243.4
    Sep 20.54 242.2
    Oct 19.68 239.5
    Nov 18.93 237.1
    Dec 18.91 236.5

    This data is highly POSITIVELY correlated:
    https://1drv.ms/b/s!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNg1ITK3Yk3q3yhL3_
    A similar cycle occurs each year.

    This data clearly demonstrates the “greenhouse” gas fairy tale is simply that. Increasing water vapour is associated with increased surface cooling.

  10. Brian G Valentine

    I agree with Gerlich & Tscheuschner that a “planetary temperature” has no meaning for a planet with/without an atmosphere, rotating/not rotating on an axis.

    The temperature changes between day and night on Mars surface (at any fixed location on Mars and at any time of the Martian year) are exactly what would be expected from the size of Mars and the specific heat, absorbance, and reflectance of the surface – i.e, the Martian atmosphere plays no role in diurnal or annual temperature variation.

    1. David Appell

      Any scalar function (like temperature) has a meaning over any geometric manifold (like a sphere).

      temperature = T(latitude, longitude)

      The average temperature is then defined as the usual average:

      = (1/A) integral_over_A T(lat,long)dA

      where A is area and dA is the area element.

      Trivial. G&T are wrong.

      1. Yonason

        “Trivial” indeed. So “trivial,” in fact, that that it is meaningless…
        https://www.rossmckitrick.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/globtemp.jnet.pdf

        While that statistic is nothing more than an average over temperatures, it is regarded as the temperature, as if an average over temperatures is actually a temperature itself, and as if the out-of-equilibrium climate system has only one temperature. But an average of temperature data sampled from a non-equilibrium field is not a temperature. Moreover, it hardly needs stating that the Earth does not have just one temperature. It is not in global thermodynamic equilibrium — neither within itself nor with its surroundings.

        But wait, there’s more…

        It is not even approximately so for the climatological questions asked of the temperature field. Even when viewed from space at such a distance that the Earth appears as a point source, the radiation from it deviates from a black body distribution and so has no one temperature [6]. There is also no unique “temperature at the top of the atmosphere”. The temperature field of the Earth as a whole is not thermodynamically representable by a single temperature.

        There’s a reason “scientists don’t know the real temperature of the planet.” It’s because it hasn’t got one.

        And, sadly, even what they do know is largely incorrect.
        https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/serious-quality-problems-in-the-surface-temperature-data-sets-ross-mckittrick/
        (And, NO, you can’t fix it by “adjusting” the data.)

        1. David Appell

          “(And, NO, you can’t fix it by “adjusting” the data.)”

          Why?

          Mueller was skeptical of the global temperature calculations, and got funding from the Koch brothers to investigate it for himself. His team included a Nobel Laureate.

          Muller found the same result as everyone else, and then said he was converted.

          1. Yonason

            “Mueller was skeptical of the global temperature calculations” – David the delusional

            While you were out, reality called. Left this msg.

            =================
            hahahahahahaha

            http://joannenova.com.au/2012/07/muller-the-pretend-skeptic-makes-three-claims-hes-half-right-on-one/

            https://calderup.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/hoodwinked-by-berkeley-earth/
            =================

            “Muller found the same result as everyone else, and then said he was converted.”

            And you believe him? Why?

  11. bonbon

    Nikolov and Zeller’s report on Atmospheric Thermal Enhancement (ATE) :

    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/nikolov-zeller-reply-eschenbach/

    “the ATE factor is completely explained by variations in mean surface pressure. ”

    There are replies to spurious criticisms.

  12. drumphish

    There’s water on Mars, has to be and has been discovered underneath the surface, one lake anyhow. Mars has been hot at one time, Olympus Mons took it to the limit, the mother of all volcanoes out there.

    Mars’ mass is not large enough, too far from the sun, ultraviolet radiation will be going gangbusters on Mars. Mass at the 23rd power, whereas, Earth is to the 24th power. Can’t hold an atmosphere like the one this planet, no oxygen for you on Mars. Oceans of water do make a difference.

    All that carbon dioxide and no plants to feast on the copious amounts of one simple molecule. You’ll have to take along a few plants on the trip to Mars to get things going, oxygen is in short supply. Plenty of wind on Mars, so ship a few wind turbines up there too. You’ll be able to make electricity, heat your bio-dome, electrolysis to capture oxygen from the water, let ‘er rip in the terrarium built to survive Mars’ atmosphere.

    Somehow, someway launch a rocket to Mars with drilling equipment in the spaceship’s cargo bay and you can drill down a kilometer to reach the liquid water. Shouldn’t all cost but about a hundred trillion dollars, by that time, the dad blasted climate emergency will arrive and everybody on this god-forsaken earth will be between a rock and hard place. Mars will be the only hope for humanity.

    Maybe not.

    What’s the use?

    Spend a hundred trillion dollars in the next eleven years on agriculture, water conservation/development, energy efficiencies, more electricity, not less, that’ll be doing something to prevent the emergency. Duh

    The Green Raw Deal is all about talking about it and never getting anything done. After everything is said and done, everything gets said and nothing gets done. Well, except for all of the stupid, which keeps on going, no real reason as to why. That is how it will be, for eleven freaking years, no less.

    357 thousand wind turbines will all have blades that become weathered, plastered with bugs, all will begin to fail, all will have to be replaced, if not the entire turbine itself. 3 times 357,000 equals 1,071,000 wind turbine blades, all will need to be replaced and recycled, which makes it 2 million total, and in another 20 years, another million more. Landfills will be a new resting place for the worn out blades. Recycling wind turbine blades is a problem right now. You’ll be using fossil fuels in the decommissioning process, can’t escape the end of it all. You are not gaining a thing.

    Easy to see the end of the madness right there.

    Over in Hawaii, there is a fierce battle to stop a wind project.

    Hawaiians have had enough of the clean energy shtick.

    Deserves some attention.

  13. tom0mason

    Only this living planet with it’s huge amounts of water, water THE great climate moderator that ensures Earth has life, and from this life it recycles carbon (and so too CO2), and from that recycling THIS planet can move relatively rapidly from ice-age to interglacial to warm-periods. Only the Earth in this solar system can withstand such booms and busts of climate, with substantial recoveries, as only this planet has such an abundance of life.
    A little solar warmth, the carbon cycle, and the free movement of water through all it’s various states, ensures that life can exist and will mediate some aspects of the swings in all the climate change we see today.
    IMO, like the solar effect on this planet, and oceanic circulation, life is grossly underestimated as the effects it has on the climate by most hubristic and pompous cAGW types.

  14. Robert Folkerts

    Water eh! Tomomason.
    See this from National Geographic.
    The fluid state of “knowledge” on a subject of origins.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distribution/public/amp/news/2014/10/141030-starstruck-earth-water-origin-vesta-science&ved=2ahUKEwiIy5yLsJrmAhXw7HMBHXhCBCoQFjAFegQIBBAB&usg=AOvVaw3GXvEvLf8Y5CEnHV2wKq5s&ampcf=1

    2 Peter chpt 3 v 5.
    By the word of God, the earth was formed out of water, and by water.

    1. tom0mason

      Robert Folkerts,

      Google?
      I wouldn’t trust Google to find the correct time of day! It’s a spy-net of a political organization that provides a particularly sloppy search engine with results that are of dubious worth!
      Use duckduckgo.com and/or http://www.startpage.com for a more secure and apolitical search.

      As for National Geographic it failed when it was taken over by a politically driven publisher.

      For water try http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/index.html Then explain all we know about water, and its many ‘anomalous’ attributes, are fitted into the UN’s antiscience ‘climate science™’ and ‘Climate Models™’.

      P.S. The UN-IPCC should how dumb they are over 10 years ago — see https://climateaudit.org/2008/01/07/ipcc-explains-the-greenhouse-effect/
      And I utterly agree with the comment at the end

      I’m not saying that an explanation is impossible, only documenting that IPCC TAR and AR4 failed to provide one. The general public should not be required to wade through Goody and Yung at a university library to get an explanation.

      Why pay anything to the UN-IPCC carbon credit scam when the explanation is pure hokum!

      Definitions
      HOKUM:
      from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
      noun:
      Something apparently impressive or legitimate but actually untrue or insincere; nonsense.

      noun:
      A stock technique for eliciting a desired response from an audience.

      from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

      noun:
      Meaningless nonsense with an outward appearance of being impressive and legitimate.

    2. tom0mason

      Robert Folkerts,

      Google?
      I wouldn’t trust Google to find the correct time of day! It’s a spy-net of a political organization that provides a particularly sloppy search engine with results that are of dubious worth!
      Use duckduckgo.com and/or http://www.startpage.com for a more secure and apolitical search.

      As for National Geographic it failed when it was taken over by a politically driven publisher.

      For water try http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/index.html Then explain all we know about water, and its many ‘anomalous’ attributes, are fitted into the UN’s antiscience ‘climate science™’ and ‘Climate Models™’.

      P.S. The UN-IPCC should how dumb they are over 10 years ago — see https://climateaudit.org/2008/01/07/ipcc-explains-the-greenhouse-effect/
      And I utterly agree with the comment at the end

      I’m not saying that an explanation is impossible, only documenting that IPCC TAR and AR4 failed to provide one. The general public should not be required to wade through Goody and Yung at a university library to get an explanation.

      Why pay anything to the UN-IPCC carbon credit scam when the explanation is pure hokum!

      Definitions
      HOKUM:
      from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
      noun:
      Something apparently impressive or legitimate but actually untrue or insincere; nonsense.

      noun:
      A stock technique for eliciting a desired response from an audience.

      from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

      noun:
      Meaningless nonsense with an outward appearance of being impressive and legitimate.

  15. Scientists: Mars Has A 95% CO2 Atmosphere…But 'There Is Little To Retain Heat On The Planet' | Un hobby...

    […] K. Richard, December 2, 2019 in […]

  16. Mariya

    Very nice!

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