Orbit-spin coupling and the circulation of the Martian atmosphere
Shirley et al
The physical origins of the observed interannual variability of weather and climate on Mars are poorly understood. In this paper we introduce a deterministic physical mechanism that may account for much of the variability of the circulation of the Mars atmosphere on seasonal and longer timescales. We derive a coupling expression linking orbital and rotational motions that produces an acceleration field varying with position and with time on and within a subject body. The spatially and temporally varying accelerations may interfere constructively or destructively with large-scale flows of geophysical fluids that are established and maintained by other means. The hypothesis predicts cycles of intensification and relaxation of circulatory flows of atmospheres on seasonal and longer timescales that are largely independent of solar forcing. The predictions of the hypothesis may be tested through numerical modeling. Examples from investigations of the atmospheric circulation of Mars are provided to illustrate qualitative features and quantitative aspects of the mechanism proposed. We briefly discuss the implications and applicability of the orbit-spin coupling hypothesis for planets other than Mars.