Scientists have found an explanation for periodic wet climates on Mars—an otherwise frozen planet—which account for evidence of past lakes contained in the planet’s sediment.. According to new research, it’s likely that the planet is sometimes warmed by bursts of methane that’s trapped under Mars’ subsurface. Like on Earth, methane can be stored in Martian soils and ice. If the ice cover is removed, stores of methane are destabilized, causing the methane to explosively erupt into the atmosphere. The team used numerical simulations to hypothesize that sufficient methane could have been released  by this process in the past to produce a lake-forming climate on ancient Mars.


Edwin S. Kite, Peter Gao, Colin Goldblatt, Michael A. Mischna, David P. Mayer & Yuk L. Yung

Canadian author: 

Colin Goldblatt, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, BC, Email: czg​@uvic​.ca

Corresponding author:

Edwin Kite, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, US, Email:

Original paper published in Nature Geoscience on October 2, 2017.