Drill into Mars for clues to Earth’s climate

Posted: March 5, 2015 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, climate
River Thames in 1677

River Thames in 1677

New Scientist has a new angle on the Little Ice Age, asking: ‘Can Martian holes give climate clues?’

Digging a hole on another world may settle a nagging question about Earth’s climate.

From about 1300 to 1870, much of the Earth is thought to have endured a long cold snap dubbed the Little Ice Age. If such a freeze occurred, it is usually blamed on a dip in solar activity, but there are other suspects such as volcanoes.

If the sun was responsible, we should see evidence of it across the solar system, says Ralph Lorenz of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. To settle the debate, he suggests digging a hole on Mars to see if it, too, had an ice age around that time.

Temperature changes spread downward through ice and soil, so a borehole will contain clues about past climate. The ice sheet in Greenland contains evidence of the Little Ice Age at a depth of about 60 metres, for instance.

“There is a clear signal of the Little Ice Age there,” Lorenz says. “As the surface temperature goes up and down, a thermal wave propagates downward. So the deep interior has a muted memory of it.”

Full report here.

  1. J Martin says:

    Landing heavy equipment on Mars is currently either prohibitively expensive or just not doable since there is insufficient atmosphere to provide any breaking effect. Look at the extreme method NASA used to get the last vehicle safely down.

  2. “Digging a hole on another world may settle a nagging question about Earth’s climate.’

    Why is this a nagging question, rather than more silliness?

    “Temperature changes spread downward through ice and soil, so a borehole will contain clues about past climate.”

    Where is there any evidence of such? Glacier ice accumulates, where is any spreading downward noticed? What is to accumulate on Mars? How may accumulation on a different planet relate to ice accumulation on Earth?

    Sounds like, spend much more, as we are incompetent in such matters.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Andrew’s link says: ‘NASA’s Mars Exploration Program seeks to characterize and understand Mars as a dynamic system, including its present and past environment, climate cycles, geology and biological potential. ‘

    So it should be possible to compare Martian and Earth climate ‘cycles’ .
    They are admitting such things exist then 😉

  4. kuhnkat says:

    Umm, exactly how will they date the material from the hole. More fantasy modeling??

  5. Will Janoschka says: Where is there any evidence of such? Glacier ice accumulates, where is any spreading downward noticed?

    Look up “boreholes + Climate” in Google.

  6. The flaw in this approach would be if Svensmark’s cosmo-climatological (CC) theory is valid.

    The CC theory is that the Sun modulates the GCR flux which forces climate change via variations in cloud cover. (The Wilson Cloud Chamber demonstrates this phenomenon.) Variations in cloud cover changes albedo which changes the amount of energy reflected back into space. GCR flux entering the Solar System varies with time.

    In 2009 Voyager 2 discovered that the Local Fluff which it encountered at the edge of the Solar system has much higher magnetic intensity than though possible.

    A strong, highly-tilted interstellar magnetic field near the Solar System
    Nature Letter: A strong, highly-tilted interstellar magnetic field near the Solar System, M. Opher, F. Alouani Bibi, G. Toth, J. D. Richardson, V. V. Izmodenov & T. I. Gombosi, Nature 462, 1036-1038 (24 December 2009)

    The paper discusses inhomogeneity in the Local Cloud that could account for variations in magnetism at the edge of the heliosphere.

    “This difference could be a result of turbulence in the interstellar medium which could cause the local magnetic field direction to differ dramatically from that of the large-scale field. This difference could also be a consequence of local distortion of the magnetic field in the solar vicinity. Within 100–200 pc from the Sun, the interstellar gas is embedded in the Local Bubble, a huge region of hot tenuous plasma which contains small, cooler, denser clouds such as the Local Interstellar Cloud (also called the Local Cloud), which envelops the Sun.”

    So not only does the Sun modulate the GCR flux, but the flux itself varies because of the structure of the Local Cloud.

    Will Janoschka’s may be correct in saying that Mars may not provide useful information about Earth. Because Mars does not have much water vapour, the effect that Svensmark claims affects cloud formation on Earth would not be observed.

    Climate changes on Mars might have no relevance to climate changes on the Earth, but nevertheless, the experiment seems worth doing.

    The late Sir John Mason, formerly DG of the UK Met Office, was an expert in the physics of clouds. He advised Svensmark to abandon his experiment re GCR in a very vehement manner.

    Hendrik Svensmark did the experiment and got results that convinced CERN to test more rigourously. Jasper Kirby has reported initial success.

    I don’t have the reference to the CERN experiment, but his review paper is worth reading.

    Cosmic Rays, Clouds, and Climate


    and also the video lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63AbaX1dE7I

  7. ren says:

    Due to the absence of a magnetic field of Mars colonization by man is impossible. The strength of the galactic radiation, especially at low solar activity is too high.

  8. ren says:

    Human mission to Mars would be a suicide mission because of the radiation.

  9. crosspatch says:

    If Svensmark is correct, the cooling was not due to reduced TSI as it was due to a reduction in solar wind increasing GCRs and thereby cloud cover. Mars doesn’t have enough cloud cover to have made much of a difference so digging into Mars is not likely to show much of anything. Mars has a different atmosphere that reacts in a different way. Not finding temperature change at that time isn’t going to mean much if the cloud cover on Mars didn’t vary by much. In fact, it might have actually warmed on Mars if a reduction in solar wind activity reduced the “stripping” of Martian atmosphere and allowed the atmosphere to thicken during that period.

  10. Stephen Richards says:

    I thought there was already evidence from Mars. Didn’t the icecaps shrink during the recent max.?

  11. PeterMG says:

    Perhaps this is all wrong, in fact very wrong. Number one why look on Mars to understand earth? Seems to me they don’t understand and like what they are seeing from earth and the solar system so they are inventing yet another project to try and prove an untenable hypothesises. In the meantime whilst this project is completed they can all bask in the current fairy land they inhabit.

    You only need to look at the data coming from all the comets we have now landed on, shot something at or are orbiting to know our theories of solar system evolution are all to hell which should suggest to the open minded that all our other fundamentals are way off the mark. For and until this is admitted science remains in stagnation.