GaianTundral Type

Every Gaian world is subject to periodic ice ages, and for a variety of reasons.  However, there are times, usually in the planet's youth, when conditions begin to literally snowball as ice cover reflects more and more thermal radiation, allowing for greater ice cover, and even greater reflections, until finally the planet is literally entombed within the ice.  Even in the equatorial regions, the oceanic ice can be up to two kilometers in depth.

Because of this great amount of surface ice, little moisture remains in the atmosphere.  The skies are very clear, bitterly cold, and any form of precipitation is exceedingly rare.  The continents themselves are barren, even of major glaciers, and are very dry.  Indeed, the surface temperatures and conditions are very similar to the surface of an Arean world.

But these planets do not die.  Volcanic activity remains intact beneath the ice, in the depth of the oceans, and life may remain prolific near these thermal areas.  Gases from the volcanic emissions also begin to accumulate, slowly, in the atmosphere, causing a slow but steady case of global warming.  Eventually a point will be reached where the planet literally thaws out.  This late stage GaianTundral planet will sea largely ice free oceans and a huge increase in precipitation.  But conditions remain cold, and glaciers begin to cover the land.  However, in only a few tens of thousands of years, perhaps even as little as a single millennium, this late ice age will end and the planet will have thawed completely, becoming a standard Gaian world once again.

However, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which caused the melting in the first place, is of such quantities that the planet becomes a hothouse world, with temperatures rising up to deadly levels.  The carbon dioxide is leeched out of the atmosphere by the rains that result, creating intense acid floods.  This cycle can continue several times, until the presence of life eventually adapts and becomes prolific enough to provide efficient carbon recycling, making such future runaway events unlikely, if not impossible.

Later stage GaianTundral worlds are cloud covered, with thawing oceans and glaciated continents.

Precipitation returns to a thawing GaianTundral world.

Quick Facts

GaianTundral Time Spans: A totally frozen, dried out GaianTundral can remain this way for millions of years.  However, the thawing process, which eventually leads to standard Gaian or higher temperatures, can take place within a few thousand years.



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ArcBuilder Universe concept John M. and Margo L. Dollan 2002-2004
This Page first uploaded June 23, 2004
Most recent update for this page June 23, 2004