What Really Cooled Mars

Mars atmosphere

BBC: A meteorite reveals clues to how Mars lost its thick, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere and became a cold, rocky desert, researchers say.

The loss of its carbon dioxide cloak is likely to have caused Mars to cool. So understanding how the CO2 was removed “could provide vital clues to how we can limit the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and so reduce climate change” said Dr Tomkinson.

This article is extremely misleading. They are trying to suggest that Mars lost its carbon dioxide atmosphere, which by implication was what was keeping Mars relatively warm.

But Mars never lost its carbon dioxide “cloak”; it just got thinner. Mars’ atmosphere still is about 95% carbon dioxide. Despite this domination of CO2, there is no greenhouse effect on Mars.

It was the thinning of the atmosphere that cooled Mars. This was most likely caused by the cooling of Mars’ core and subsequent loss of its magnetic field resulting in the solar wind eroding away most of the atmosphere.

Sure, Mars lost an amount of carbon dioxide, but its ratio in the atmosphere remained essentially the same.

Chemical processes eating up a lot of carbon dioxide means little when Mars’ atmosphere, whether thick or thin, is so abundant in CO2. The thickness of its atmosphere is more significant on its surface temperature than any amount of CO2.

The point is that many people would have walked away from the BBC’s article believing that Mars was warm because of CO2, and it then became cold because the “warm” CO2 was then removed from the atmosphere. This is of course misleading and wrong.

Meteorite may explain ‘how Mars turned to stone’
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24624527

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Is Cloning A Mammoth Worthwhile?

A researcher working near a carcass of a female mammoth found on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. (AFP / NORTHEASTERN FEDERAL UNIVERSITY)

A researcher working near a carcass of a female mammoth found on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. (AFP / NORTHEASTERN FEDERAL UNIVERSITY)

We cannot expect a cloned mammoth (even one that isn’t a hybrid with an elephant, but is 100% mammoth DNA) to be exactly like a genuine wild mammoth from prehistoric times. That animal is extinct and gone forever, along with its Ice Age environment. But that doesn’t mean the experiment is not worthwhile. We could still gain useful knowledge of mammoth physiology, as well as some instinctive behaviour.

If they created a whole herd and placed them in a similar environment –which has been suggested as a possibility– we could get certain clues as to their original behaviour during the Pleistocene.

A researcher holding a test tube with what the scientists called a sample of well-preserved blood they found in a carcass of a female mammoth discovered on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. (AFP / NORTHEASTERN FEDERAL UNIVERSITY)

A researcher holding a test tube with what the scientists called a sample of well-preserved blood they found in a carcass of a female mammoth discovered on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. (AFP / NORTHEASTERN FEDERAL UNIVERSITY)

Obviously, it can’t be exactly the way a mammoth would have lived. There would have been certain learned behaviour within the herd and in response to the Ice Age ecology that we will probably never know.

It won’t be a wild mammoth, so we won’t get an understanding of how a prehistoric mammoth would have behaved. However, just like an elephant born in captivity is still an elephant, this would still be technically a mammoth.

Woolly mammoth DNA may lead to a resurrection of the ancient beast
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/jul/31/woolly-mammoth-dna-cloning

Return of the mammoth? Dolly scientist says beast should be cloned
http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/07/31/scientist-who-cloned-dolly-on-how-to-clone-wooly-mammoth/