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This drawing shows the possible geography of Martian water.
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NASA

The Transfer of Water in Martian History

The unusual global geography of Mars helps to explain the fact that water has been drawn from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere of the planet through all of Martian history (that is, from higher ground to lower ground, where lower ground is in the northern hemisphere of the planet).

On a cold planet water can be trapped, frozen, within the ground, providing a source of flowing water on the ground only when the water is melted. The question is, what causes the frozen ground water to be melted and released to the surface? Opening of the aquifer can occur in a number of ways. Among them are

  • volcanism, where ice is melted along the slopes of the volcano during volcanic events,
  • climatary warming, where near surface ice is catastrophically released during periods of warmer temperatures.

Much of the evidence for running water on Mars shows that the water is being drawn to lower latitudes, including evidence that water flowed down the edges of the steep slopes at the boundary between the Martian highlands and the Martian lowlands. This evidence is in the form of icy flows, i.e. glacial features, suggesting that there is icy flow towards the lowlands from the highlands.

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