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Habitability and multistability in earth-like planets

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Lucarini, V., Pascale, S., Boschi, R., Kirk, E., & Iro, N. (2013). Habitability and multistability in earth-like planets. Astronomische Nachrichten, 334, 576-588.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0019-B748-D
We explore the potential multistability of the climate for a planet around the habitable zone. We focus on conditions reminiscent to those of the Earth system, but our investigation aims at presenting a general methodology for dealing with exoplanets. We provide a thorough analysis of the non-equilibrium thermodynamical properties of the climate system and explore, using a a flexible climate model, how such properties depend on the energy input of the parent star, on the infrared atmospheric opacity, and on the rotation rate. It is possible to reproduce the multi-stability properties reminiscent of the paleoclimatologically relevant snowball (SB) - warm (W) conditions. We then study the thermodynamics of the W and SB states, clarifying the role of the hydrological cycle in shaping the irreversibility and the efficiency of the W states, and emphasizing the extreme diversity of the SB states, where dry conditions are realized. Thermodynamics provides the clue for studying the tipping points of the system and leads us to constructing parametrizations where the main thermodynamic properties are expressed as functions of the emission temperature of the planet only. Such functions are rather robust with respect to changing the rotation rate of the planet from the current terrestrial one to half of it. We then explore the dynamical range of slowy rotating and phase locked planets. There is a critical rotation rate below which the multi-stability properties are lost. Such critical rotation rate corresponds roughly to the phase lock 2:1 condition. Therefore, if an Earth-like planet is 1:1 phase locked with respect to the parent star, only one climatic state would be compatible with a given set of astronomical and astrophysical parameters. These results have relevance for the general theory of planetary circulation and for the definition of necessary and sufficient conditions for habitability.