Planetary climate and atmospheric evolution research


Planets are dynamic entities: their atmospheres, surfaces and interiors all evolve dramatically over time. To understand this evolution, we must piece together clues from a variety of sources, and investigate hypotheses using models that incorporate diverse physical and chemical processes.

My research focuses on the boundary between Solar System and exoplanet atmospheres and climates. I see the planets in the Solar System simply as special cases of a much wider sample that we are only just beginning to access. One of the most exciting aspects of doing planetary research today is that the climate evolution theories we develop now are going to be testable on a grand scale in the coming decades.

I use a range of approaches in my work, with a general emphasis on theoretical and numerical modeling. I'm a strong believer in the hierarchical approach to problem-solving, and often use simple back-of-the-envelope calculations in combination with more complex simulations (generally using codes I build myself).

Cover image details:

1) False-colour image of martian valley networks as captured by the Odyssey spacecraft (NASA).

2) Snapshot of H2O column amount in a high-resolution 3D GCM simulation of early Mars using the model described here.

3) Mars Express hi-res stereo image of a martian valley network near Palos Crater (ESA/DLR/FU Berlin).

4) Saturn's polar 'hexagon' as viewed by Cassini (NASA/JPL/SSI).



© Robin Wordsworth 2015