Mars, Jupiter, Triton, Neptune, Pluto, and others share the fate of Earth
A new storm and a new red spot on Jupiter hints at climate change, USA TODAY and dozens of other sources explained yesterday. The temperatures are expected to change by as much as 10 Fahrenheit degrees at different places of the globe. At least close to the new spot and to the equator, nothing less than global warming is expected.
New observations of Jupiter's climate change were released in 2008: click the number.
The climate of Neptune - more precisely its reflectivity - was recently changing. Lockwood and Hammel argue in Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 34 (2007) that the trends on Neptune reveal suggestive correlations of brightness of Neptune with the temperature trends on Earth, indicating their common solar origin - although I am not quite sure whether the sign is as expected.
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Triton is Neptune's largest Moon. Some people believe that it used to be an asteroid. Global warming was detected on Triton. Between 1989 and 1998, the temperature jumped by 5 percent on the absolute (Kelvin) scale. The same relative increase would raise the Earth's temperature by 22 degrees Fahrenheit in 9 years. See thousands of other pages about the global warming on Triton.
Another moon of Saturn's, Enceladus, would be also expected to be frozen and cold. Suddenly, Cassini has informed us that Enceladus generates its own heat. Its high temperatures seem to be incompatible with calculations based on solar energy itself, according to existing models.
Saturn itself has a rather warm southern pole, and the temperatures in that region suddenly jumped by 3-5 Kelvin degrees. Well, it's warm because it's been exposed to sunshine for quite some time but the magnitude of the temperature jumps is not trivial to calculate.
What's going on with Pluto? Well, yes, your guess is right. There is global warming on Pluto. Pluto's atmospheric pressure has tripled in 14 years, and the associated increase of temperature is estimated to be around 3.5 Fahrenheit degrees, despite the motion of Pluto away from the Sun.
Of course, the global warming on Mars is a well-known story. Between 1975 and 2000, Mars warmed up by 0.65 Celsius degrees, much faster than Earth: see Nature 2007. The warming has been used by this blog to discover the Martians. More seriously, we have explained that the dramatic and speedy melting of the Martian icecaps is caused by the greenhouse effect. 95% of "their" atmosphere is made of carbon dioxide; that's slightly more than 0.038% of our atmosphere.
The warming trend on Mars is undeniable. Some people have tried to blame the global warming on NASA's rovers. Such accusations are pretty serious because NASA is already preparing plans to occupy Mars using the greenhouse effect, as ordered by George Bush. ;-)
This planet doesn't belong to this list of planets where recent warming has been demonstrated. But it is interesting to talk about the greenhouse effect there.
Venus, our planet's evil sister, has already been identified as unusable for life because of ... yes, because of the greenhouse effect that occured in the past. Last month, the Venus express gave us some new hints why Venus has such a thick atmosphere that generated global warming.
Venus' distance from the Sun is about 70% of the distance Sun-Earth. Because of the second power, this means that there is twice as much solar radiation per area over there. Because of the fourth power in the Stefan-Boltzmann law, it means that you expect about 20% higher temperatures in comparison with Earth on the Kelvin scale which would mean, if Venus were a black body, that the temperature would still be still below 100 Celsius. But they are about 470 Celsius on Venus.
Venus is clearly not a black body and the greenhouse effect is important for raising its temperature. But you should notice that Venus' atmosphere has 90 times higher pressure than the terrestrial atmosphere and 96% of it is carbon dioxide! The Earth only has 380 parts per million of CO2, and if you divided it by 90 to get the corresponding fraction of the Venus atmosphere, you get about 4 parts per million. There is more than 100,000 times less CO2 density here than on Venus! If you used a linear relationship between the CO2 concentration and temperature boost, you would see that the expected increase of the Earth temperature due to CO2 is 400 Celsius divided by more than 100,000 which is a few millikelvins - a totally negligible amount! The actual strength of the greenhouse effect on Earth will be stronger - because the first molecules matter more - but it won't be exceedingly stronger. At any rate, when numbers are taken into account, you shouldn't expect any substantial influence of CO2 on Earth.
But let us return to the planets that are known to be currently warming.
The Earth is currently experiencing warming, too, although a less dramatic one than the previous examples. However, there is apparently a huge difference. The warming on the previous planets and moons was natural. On the other hand, the warming on Earth couldn't evolve naturally: it is caused by the humankind, evil corporations, and their intelligent design, most left-wing scientists believe. The warming trends can't have anything to do with the Sun whose activity is now highest in the last 1000 years: it is unethical to propose that the Sun plays any role, consensus scientists argue.
You may ask the consensus scientists: why is there such a difference between the explanations for the warming of the Earth and the other planets and their moons? It's because the Earth is the center of the Universe, they would answer. You could also ask: why do all these planets and moons indicate warming? Shut up, the consensus scientists would answer.
Some of them would tell you that your paradox is resolved by the anthropic principle: the people on Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Mars, Triton, and other celestial bodies cannot complain about the anthropogenic global warming because... because these people don't exist! :-)
The debate is over, Al Gore, our prophet, has announced. Terrestrial global warming, caused by the human sins, is no longer a political issue: it is now a spiritual issue. Now it's time to punish the heretics who deny that the Earth as the center of the Universe is special because of the humans who were created to the image of God - and because of their sins and SUVs.
This looks like a story about some silly priests from the 16th century Catholic Church - a story about the Dark Ages that most of us heard in the basic school. But unfortunately, what we are describing here are influential people in the 21st century such as one who delivers a speech on the picture above.
People who believe, much like the Church in the 15th century, that the divine truth is determined by consensus. People who believe that we should prefer awkward hypotheses if they support our spiritual values. People who believe that questions and independent thinking should be silenced. People who will almost certainly write dozens of unsubstantiated comments below this article.
More seriously, I don't claim that the trends observed on all these celestial bodies prove their solar or cosmic origin although the agreement of the signs is suggestive. But what these trends certainly do is to remind all rational people that there is always natural variability on any celestial body as long as it has any structure or internal dynamics and the only questions are the quantitative ones: how large this natural variability is and what effects are the most important ones in driving it. Denying that there is a lot of natural climate change would be extraordinarily silly.
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Mars, Jupiter, Triton, Neptune, Pluto, and others share the fate of Earth