Structure and dynamics of the Martian lower and middle atmosphere as observed by the Mars Climate Sounder: Seasonal variations in zonal mean temperature, dust and water ice aerosols

McCleese, D. J.; Heavens, N. G.; Schofield,, J. T.; Abdou, W. A.; Bandfield, J. L.; Calcutt, S. B.; Irwin, P. G. J.; Kass, D. M.; Kleinböhl, A.; Lewis, S. R.; Paige, D. A.; Read, P. L.; Richardson, M. I.; Shirley, J. H.; Taylor, F. W.; Teanby, N. and Zurek, R. W. (2010). Structure and dynamics of the Martian lower and middle atmosphere as observed by the Mars Climate Sounder: Seasonal variations in zonal mean temperature, dust and water ice aerosols. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 115(E12), article no. E12016.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2010JE003677

Abstract

The first Martian year and a half of observations by the Mars Climate Sounder aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed new details of the thermal structure and distributions of dust and water ice in the atmosphere. The Martian atmosphere is shown in the observations by the Mars Climate Sounder to vary seasonally between two modes: a symmetrical equinoctial structure with middle atmosphere polar warming; and a solstitial structure with an intense middle atmosphere polar warming overlying a deep winter polar vortex. The dust distribution, in particular, is more complex than appreciated before the advent of these high (~5km) vertical resolution observations, which extend from near the surface to above 80 km, and yield 13 dayside and 13 nightside pole-to-pole cross sections each day. Among the new features noted is a persistent maximum in dust mass mixing ratio at 15-25 km above the surface (at least on the nightside) during northern spring and summer. The water ice distribution is very sensitive to the diurnal and seasonal variation of temperature, and is a good tracer of the vertically propagating tide.

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