Assessing the habitability of planets with Earth-like atmospheres with 1D and 3D climate modeling

Godolt, M.; Grenfell, J. L.; Kitzmann, Daniel; Kunze, M.; Langematz, U.; Patzer, A. B. C.; Rauer, H.; Stracke, B. (2016). Assessing the habitability of planets with Earth-like atmospheres with 1D and 3D climate modeling. Astronomy and astrophysics, 592(A36), A36. EDP Sciences 10.1051/0004-6361/201628413

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The habitable zone (HZ) describes the range of orbital distances around a star where the existence of liquid water on the surface of an Earth-like planet is in principle possible. The applicability of one-dimensional (1D) climate models for the estimation of the HZ boundaries has been questioned by recent three-dimensional (3D) climate studies. While 3D studies can calculate the water vapor, ice albedo, and cloud feedback self-consistently and therefore allow for a deeper understanding and the identification of relevant climate processes, 1D model studies rely on fewer model assumptions and can be more easily applied to the large parameter space possible for extrasolar planets. Aims. We evaluate the applicability of 1D climate models to estimate the potential habitability of Earth-like extrasolar planets by comparing our 1D model results to those of 3D climate studies in the literature. We vary the two important planetary properties, surface albedo and relative humidity, in the 1D model. These depend on climate feedbacks that are not treated self-consistently in most 1D models. Methods. We applied a cloud-free 1D radiative-convective climate model to calculate the climate of Earth-like planets around different types of main-sequence stars with varying surface albedo and relative humidity profile. We compared the results to those of 3D model calculations available in the literature and investigated to what extent the 1D model can approximate the surface temperatures calculated by the 3D models. Results. The 1D parameter study results in a large range of climates possible for an Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like atmosphere and water reservoir at a certain stellar insolation. At some stellar insolations the full spectrum of climate states could be realized, i.e., uninhabitable conditions due to surface temperatures that are too high or too low as well as habitable surface conditions, depending only on the relative humidity and surface albedo assumed. When treating the surface albedo and the relative humidity profile as parameters in 1D model studies and using the habitability constraints found by recent 3D modeling studies, the same conclusions about the potential habitability of a planet can be drawn as from 3D model calculations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Kitzmann, Daniel


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
500 Science > 530 Physics




EDP Sciences




Danielle Zemp

Date Deposited:

25 Jul 2017 10:43

Last Modified:

30 Jul 2017 02:17

Publisher DOI:





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