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Mars and it's storms

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Okay I need to admit I am very amateur when it comes to knowledge of the celestial bodies.

I do however believe myself to be intelligent (ish) but more importantly a deep thinker.


My question is. Has any studies been done on the temperature difference on the Mars surface when storms envelop the planet for weeks?

I can only imagine that it gets hotter! Maybe not beach time hot but possibly enough to thaw water trapped as ice near the surface.

Look at Venus for instance, it covered in clouds and is hotter than Mercury!?!?!. So surely weeks of sand storms on Mars would raise the temperature there. Liquid water..... potential life?

Like I say I'm just a deep thinker who thinks he's intellengent, no basis behind it other than theory.

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Possibly even....


Have you ever walked on a beach bare footed. Sore eh!

What if the sand/dust in the atmosphere gets enough heat. When it settles, along with the slightly warmer air and surface temps......


You get what I mean. Potentially....

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Venus and mars are a completely different set of circumstances, among them proximity to the sun as well as the nature of their atmosphere. Mars receives a fraction of the solar energy that Venus does.  I am not an astronomer, but I am willing to bet, that sandstorms only serve to block the little energy mars receives on its surface, if anything I think it may be the reverse, making it colder. 

You may be referring to the greenhouse effect, I’m not sure that sand is conducive to that effect, certain gasses are, which are not common in high concentrations on mars. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that there are many factors that determine greenhouse effects, I am willing to bet that Mars does not have the atmospheric recipe to allow for a greenhouse effect, sandstorm or not.

Edited by Sunshine

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An interesting question. The difference in solar radiation between Mars and Earth is not that great (43% that of Earth at the top of the atmosphere, so the equator on Mars actually receives more solar radiation than the poles do on earth.)  Earth  is therefore warmer than it should be because of its atmosphere. To have a warming effect, the atmosphere has to be more transparent at short wavelengths than it is at long wavelengths (letting the short wavelength solar  flux through while trapping the re-emitted longer wavelengths from the surface.)  So called "greenhouse gasses" like CO2, water vapour, methane  etc are good examples of atmospheres that have this property.   Dust  though, depending in the particle size, has the opposite transmission spectrum, (scattering and absorbing the shorter wavelengths while allowing the longer wavelengths to pass through) so the net effect of dust is cooling. (This is seen in the short term on earth during major volcano eruptions for example, though in the long term sustained volcanic activity  leads to warming from the greenhouse gasses emitted, as seen on Venus for example)  The same effect is seen with interstellar dust where stars in dusty regions can be hidden at visible wavelengths  but are revealed at infra-red wavelengths.

The dust, once it settles might perhaps warm Mars through another mechanism though if it settles on the icy poles. This will reduce the albedo of the surface so less heat is radiated back from the dusty surface compared with the more reflective icy surface.  


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Thank you Robin for your very interesting and factual answer.

I do get the variations between all the planet's and the composition of the atmospheres of the planet's. 

Venus is unique, earth is too. Distance from the sun means nothing because Venus is hotter than Mercury.

Mars is weird and also unique. Green house gases are not involved here. Mars has massive swings in temperature from day to night. Don't quote it but something like 1 degree C during the daylight hours and very much lower at night. Obvious being so far away from the sun. When the storms hit Mars they can envelope the whole planet so surely that acts as a blanket to trap the heat for weeks.


Anyway us there any studies to clarify?

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Actually the Martian atmosphere is mainly composed of carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas but it is thin so not as much heat is retained compared with the Earth for example.

There are large swings in temperature from day to night on Mars (a warm day on Mars is around freezing but the nights are ~80C cooler) compared with Earth because the Martian atmosphere is so thin that more of the heat absorbed from the sun  is lost during the night, radiated back out into space.  Rather like cold clear nights on Earth where there are no clouds to stop the heat being lost.  (water droplets scatter the IR radiation ie heat back towards the ground and water vapour is a greenhouse gas).  An atmosphere can also move the heat around the planet to even up the differences from day to night.  The effect is even more extreme on bodies with no atmosphere. The Moon's surface varies from ~+100C to -170C from day to night.

 Dust does not act like a blanket to retain the heat.  The heat can still escape through the dust but the sun's radiation is blocked so the net effect is cooling.


Edited by robin_astro
clarified a point

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