The unstable CO₂ feedback cycle on ocean planets

Kitzmann, D.; Alibert, Y.; Godolt, M.; Grenfell, J. L.; Heng, K.; Patzer, A. B. C.; Rauer, H.; Stracke, B.; von Paris, P. (2015). The unstable CO₂ feedback cycle on ocean planets. Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 452(4), pp. 3752-3758. Oxford University Press 10.1093/mnras/stv1487

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Ocean planets are volatile-rich planets, not present in our Solar system, which are thought to be dominated by deep, global oceans. This results in the formation of high-pressure water ice, separating the planetary crust from the liquid ocean and, thus, also from the atmosphere. Therefore, instead of a carbonate–silicate cycle like on the Earth, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is governed by the capability of the ocean to dissolve carbon dioxide (CO₂). In our study, we focus on the CO₂ cycle between the atmosphere and the ocean which determines the atmospheric CO₂ content. The atmospheric amount of CO₂ is a fundamental quantity for assessing the potential habitability of the planet's surface because of its strong greenhouse effect, which determines the planetary surface temperature to a large degree. In contrast to the stabilizing carbonate–silicate cycle regulating the long-term CO₂ inventory of the Earth atmosphere, we find that the CO₂ cycle feedback on ocean planets is negative and has strong destabilizing effects on the planetary climate. By using a chemistry model for oceanic CO₂ dissolution and an atmospheric model for exoplanets, we show that the CO₂ feedback cycle can severely limit the extension of the habitable zone for ocean planets.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences > Theoretical Astrophysics and Planetary Science (TAPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > NCCR PlanetS

UniBE Contributor:

Kitzmann, Daniel, Alibert, Yann Daniel Pierre, Heng, Kevin


500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




Oxford University Press




Marceline Brodmann

Date Deposited:

24 Jun 2022 15:55

Last Modified:

22 Jan 2024 16:35

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

astrobiology, planets and satellites: atmospheres, planets and satellites: oceans, planets and satellites: terrestrial planets




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