Departmental Kudos

Bryce Troncone Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!

B_TronconeCongratulations to EPS major, Bryce Troncone, who receives a competitive Graduate Research Fellowship from NSF! This five-year fellowship will provide financial support during Bryce's graduate study on exoplanets. Please find the description of his research project below. Congrats Bryce!

Update (4/19): Bryce is going to Dartmouth for graduate school and will be working with Dr. Colin Meyer and Dr. Jacob Buffo to study exoplanets. Congrats again!


Exo-Earth Ocean Dynamics

Numerous M-dwarf orbiting exoplanets with a high Earth Similarity Index (ESI) value, a multiparameter index that compares attributes such as mass, radius, and temperature of an exoplanet to Earth, have been discovered in the last decade. These exo-Earths’ position within the circumstellar habitable zone of their parent stars also suggest that they may be water-rich planets. However, the climate conditions of many exoplanets and the stellar evolution of their central star could make liquid water on the surface of these exoplanets challenging. One way to generate liquid water on these exoplanets is by basal and internal melting of large ice sheets, thus providing stable and long-lasting conditions. Premised on our previous study Liquid Water on Cold Exo-Earths via Basal Melting of Ice Sheets, a 2D thermal evolution model for habitable and near exoplanets can be extrapolated from our previous 1D model. Additional factors not previously included such as salt content, viscosity contrasts and buoyant effects, and laminar vs. turbulent flow regimes will be implemented in the thermal models. This study will further demonstrate and expand upon that even with an Earth-like water mass fraction (WMF) of 0.05%, and low Moon-like heat flux, basal melting may not only be likely but also play a significant role in habitability.