Habitability is Dependent on Ocean: Water bodies Influence Climate Stability


There is a lot of research work going to find traces of life on other planets and to find elements that are essential requisites for sustaining life on other Earth-like planets. All the research done so far using computer simulations were more focused on the atmosphere of these alien planets with Earth-like habitable climates. 

Recently, experts from the University of East Anglia have proposed that oceans are very imperative in moderating climate on planets similar to Earth and for the evolution of life forms. Computer simulations showed that the oceans are crucial for climate stability and habitability.

Ocean based computer-simulated model

Therefore, a team of researchers developed a computer-simulated model of ocean circulation for an imaginative ocean covered planet like Earth. This helped them to comprehend how different rates of planetary rotations can affect heat transport with the presence of oceans taken into considerations.

Today quite a lot newer planets are being discovered outside our solar system and such research would help to find whether such planets could sustain life, said professor David Stevens from UAE’s schools of Mathematics.

Researchers further explain that in the absence of large water bodies from the surface of the planet, seasonal temperature rises would be too quick and extreme weather, which definitely do not make an ideal condition for sustaining life.

Water bodies regulating planets’ temperature

Many planets are uninhabitable as they are either too far or too close to their sun. Without the presence of oceans, even planets that lie within the habitable zone (the orbital region where mild temperature allows planet to have liquid surface water) of its star would be sterile and lifeless. But unfortunately, habitability models created so far have overlooked the effect of oceans on climate regulation.

David adds that oceans are crucial when it comes to controlling climate and they causes the surface temperatures to react very slowly to seasonal changes caused by solar heating. This way ocean regulates temperature swings of a planet within tolerable levels. Researchers observed that heat transported by oceans have a major effect on the temperature distribution, thus making larger areas of the planet to be habitable.

David gives an example of Mars, which, although lie in the sun’s habitable zone, have temperature swings that vary over a range of 100 degree Celsius, just because Mars have no oceans. Therefore, any climate model designed to understand whether planets have the potential to sustain life should consider oceans that contribute majorly in making planet’s climate stable.

With this new model, researchers hope to deduce more accurate information which has not been folded before regarding the climate of other planets and their habitability. We may not be far when we would discover some alien life on some distant planet soon with this model at least I hope so.

Source: University of East Anglia

Image: sen.com


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