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Sci Adv. 2019 Mar 27;5(3):eaav7710. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aav7710. eCollection 2019 Mar.

Persistence of intense, climate-driven runoff late in Mars history.

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University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.
Natural History Museum, London, UK.
Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France.
Imperial College London, London, UK.


Mars is dry today, but numerous precipitation-fed paleo-rivers are found across the planet's surface. These rivers' existence is a challenge to models of planetary climate evolution. We report results indicating that, for a given catchment area, rivers on Mars were wider than rivers on Earth today. We use the scale (width and wavelength) of Mars paleo-rivers as a proxy for past runoff production. Using multiple methods, we infer that intense runoff production of >(3-20) kg/m2 per day persisted until <3 billion years (Ga) ago and probably <1 Ga ago, and was globally distributed. Therefore, the intense runoff production inferred from the results of the Mars Science Laboratory rover was not a short-lived or local anomaly. Rather, precipitation-fed runoff production was globally distributed, was intense, and persisted intermittently over >1 Ga. Our improved history of Mars' river runoff places new constraints on the unknown mechanism that caused wet climates on Mars.

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