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The Climates of Other Worlds: A Review of the Emerging Field of Exoplanet Climatology∗ ∗ Based on an invited talk at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society.


The discovery of planets orbiting stars other than the Sun has accelerated over the past decade, and this trend will continue as new space- and ground-based observatories employ next-generation instrumentation to search the skies for habitable worlds. However, many factors and processes can affect planetary habitability and must be understood to accurately determine a planet's habitability potential. While climate models have long been used to understand and predict climate and weather patterns on the Earth, a growing community of researchers has begun to apply these models to extrasolar planets. This work has provided a better understanding of how orbital, surface, and atmospheric properties affect planetary climate and habitability; how these climatic effects might change for different stellar and planetary environments; and how the habitability and observational signatures of newly discovered planets might be influenced by these climatic factors. This review summarizes the origins and evolution of the burgeoning field of exoplanet climatology, discusses recent work using a hierarchy of computer models to identify those planets most capable of supporting life, and offers a glimpse into future directions of this quickly evolving subfield of exoplanet science.

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