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2019-01-14. Modeling the Climates of Worlds Beyond Earth.

posted Jan 18, 2019, 8:48 PM by Alan Gould

By  Katherine Kornei, Eos/AGU. GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8. [https://eos.org/articles/modeling-the-climates-of-worlds-beyond-earth]  Excerpt: Climate modeling isn’t limited just to planet Earth anymore. In recent decades, researchers have begun modeling the climates of other planets in the solar system and are now simulating conditions on faraway worlds orbiting other stars in the Milky Way galaxy. ...There’s no shortage of planets to study: Nearly 4,000 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have already been found using such instruments as the Kepler Space Telescope. The team for NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which was just launched last year, announced the discovery of its third exoplanet at the AAS meeting last week. And an increasing number of worlds are being found that resemble our home planet in size, Shields said. “We are now in the Earth-sized regime.” ...Shields is also studying the climatic effects of ice on exoplanets. Here on Earth, the majority of the sunlight that strikes the planet’s surface is in the form of visual light, which ice effectively reflects. But planets orbiting smaller, cooler stars known as M dwarfs—which are believed to be far more common in the Milky Way galaxy than Sun-sized stars—are bathed mostly in infrared light, which ice readily absorbs. As a result, planets orbiting M dwarfs were less likely to experience global ice coverage (i.e., a “snowball” stage), the researchers showed....