Investigating the Equatorial Gaps in Snowball Earth Sea Glaciers Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The way photosynthetic life survived the Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth events is still a matter of debate that has deep implications for planetary habitability. One option is that gaps in thick, semi-global ice coverage (sea glaciers) could be maintained at the equator by ocean-ice-atmosphere dynamics. We investigate this idea by modifying a global ocean-thick- marine-ice model developed for modeling Neoproterozoic Snowball Events to account for gaps in thick ice and interactions with atmospheric dynamics. Our hypothesis is that in the parameter regime that allows for sea glacier flow, ice flow will make gaps in the thick ice, and therefore an open ocean solution, less likely. This would suggest that oases in thick ice are a more viable survival mechanism for photosynthetic life during a Snowball Earth event.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017