From my friends in geosciences I learned a lot about General Circulation Models (GCMs) (for Earth's atmosphere and oceans). I also learned about ice sheet models for floating ice (like sea ice or glacier tongues), ice on bedrock, as well as (submarine) permafrost modelling. Then, there are also GCMs amended with all these ice models.

I am aware that for model calibration purposes, one sometimes runs the latter GCMs on "snowball Earth" with all oceans being initially frozen. But: Have GCMs have been applied to other planets or moons with liquid on or underneath its surface yet?

I consider that rather probable:

  1. I did find the topography of venus, but did anybody run a GCM on that topography with a carbondioxid ocean?
  2. For Enceladus, I found some publications about the topography but not the dataset itself.

Thinking about adjusting e.g. the MIT GCM to a new planet or moon, the next challenge would be to adjust the parametrization to non-water ice or to completely different fluent, I guess. Are there other things I am overlooking?

PS: I am asking in this community as I am hoping that someone might help me out with a general recipe what to take into account when transfering a GCM from Earth to another planet or moon.


  • $\begingroup$ It's not entirely clear to me what you're looking for. GCMs have certainly been applied to other planets, and also to Saturn's moon Titan. None of those (except Titan in some respects) have "liquid on the surface", and "liquid under the surface" wouldn't seem to be relevant to GCMs. Your best bet would probably be models used for studying the past climate of Mars, where a significant ocean and hydrological cycle have been proposed. $\endgroup$ – Peter Erwin Dec 16 '20 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ I doubt anyone's tried running a GCM for Venus with a carbon-dioxide ocean, since Venus is way too hot for anything like that. $\endgroup$ – Peter Erwin Dec 16 '20 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ About oceans on Venus, I read space.com/28112-venus-weird-superfluid-oceans.html which is entitled "CO2 Oceans May Have Covered Surface". $\endgroup$ – B--rian Dec 16 '20 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ Concerning "liquid under the surface", I expect that there is indeed a (very slow) dynamics of a possible ice shield going on, if we are able to observe ice volcanos e.g. on Titan. $\endgroup$ – B--rian Dec 16 '20 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ OK, that's an interestingly weird idea for Venus; thanks for the reference. (I doubt it would be easy to adapt a GCM model for that, though, since as the article points out the behavior of supercritical CO2 is potentially weird and a bit hard to model.) $\endgroup$ – Peter Erwin Dec 16 '20 at 12:03

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