Monday, April 04, 2016

A Mechanism Behind the Martiian Dust Devils

Amplification of dust loading in Martian dust devils by self-shadowing


Kuepper et al


Insolation of the Martian soil leads to a sub-surface overpressure due to thermal creep gas flow. This could support particle entrainment into the atmosphere. Short time shadowing e.g. by the traverse of a larger dust devil would enhance this effect. We find in microgravity experiments that mass ejection rates are increased by a factor of 10 for several seconds if a light source of 12.6 kW/m2 is turned off. Scaled to Mars this implies that self-shadowing of a partially opaque dust devil might lead to a strongly amplified flux of lifted material. We therefore suggest that self-shadowing might be a mechanism on Mars to increase the total dust loading of a dust devil and keep it self-sustained.

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