Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The effect of dust on the martian polar vortices

The effect of dust on the martian polar vortices


Guzewich et al


The influence of atmospheric dust on the dynamics and stability of the martian polar vortices is examined, through analysis of Mars Climate Sounder observations and MarsWRF general circulation model simulations. We show that regional and global dust storms produce “transient vortex warming” events that partially or fully disrupt the northern winter polar vortex for brief periods. Increased atmospheric dust heating alters the Hadley circulation and shifts the downwelling branch of the circulation poleward, leading to a disruption of the polar vortex for a period of days to weeks. Through our simulations, we find this effect is dependent on the atmospheric heating rate, which can be changed by increasing the amount of dust in the atmosphere or by altering the dust optical properties (e.g., single scattering albedo). Despite this, our simulations show that some level of atmospheric dust is necessary to produce a distinct northern hemisphere winter polar vortex.

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