A multispecies pseudoadiabat for simulating condensable-rich exoplanet atmospheres

R. J. Graham*, Tim Lichtenberg, Ryan Boukrouche, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Central stages in the evolution of rocky, potentially habitable planets may play out under atmospheric conditions with a large inventory of nondilute condensable components. Variations in condensate retention and accompanying changes in local lapse rate may substantially affect planetary climate and surface conditions, but there is currently no general theory to effectively describe such atmospheres. In this article, expanding on the work by Li et al., we generalize the single-component moist pseudoadiabat derivation in Pierrehumbert to allow for multiple condensing components of arbitrary diluteness and retained condensate fraction. The introduction of a freely tunable retained condensate fraction allows for a flexible, self-consistent treatment of atmospheres with nondilute condensable components. To test the pseudoadiabat’s capabilities for simulating a diverse range of climates, we apply the formula to planetary atmospheres with compositions, surface pressures, and temperatures representing important stages with condensable-rich atmospheres in the evolution of terrestrial planets: a magma ocean planet in a runaway greenhouse state; a post-impact, late-veneer-analog planet with a complex atmospheric composition; and an Archean Earth-like planet near the outer edge of the classical circumstellar habitable zone. We find that variations in the retention of multiple nondilute condensable species can significantly affect the lapse rate and in turn outgoing radiation and the spectral signatures of planetary atmospheres. The presented formulation allows for a more comprehensive treatment of the climate evolution of rocky exoplanets and early Earth analogs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number207
Number of pages12
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2021
Externally publishedYes

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