Böttger, H.M.; Lewis, S.R.; Read, P.L. and Forget, F.
The effects of the martian regolith on GCM water cycle simulations.
This paper describes General Circulation Model (GCM) simulations of the martian water cycle focusing on the effects of an adsorbing regolith. We describe the 10-layer regolith model used in this study which has been adapted from the 1-D model developed by Zent, A.P., Haberle, R.M., Houben, H.C., Jakosky, B.M. [1993. A coupled subsurface–boundary layer model of water on Mars. J. Geophys. Res. 98 (E2), 3319–3337, February]. Even with a 30-min timestep and taking into account the effect of surface water ice, our fully implicit scheme compares well with the results obtained by Zent, A.P., Haberle, R.M., Houben, H.C., Jakosky, B.M. [1993. A coupled subsurface–boundary layer model of water on Mars. J. Geophys. Res. 98 (E2), 3319–3337, February]. This means, however, that the regolith is not able to reproduce the diurnal variations in column water vapour abundance of up to a factor of 2-3 as seen in some observations, with only about 10% of the atmospheric water vapour column exchanging with the subsurface on a daily basis. In 3-D simulations we find that the regolith adsorbs water preferentially in high latitudes. This is especially true in the northern hemisphere, where perennial subsurface water ice builds up poleward of 60° N at depths which are comparable to the Odyssey observations. Much less ice forms in the southern high latitudes, which suggests that the water ice currently present in the martian subsurface is not stable under present conditions and is slowly subliming and being deposited in the northern hemisphere. When initialising the model with an Odyssey-like subsurface water ice distribution the model is capable of forcing the simulated water cycle from an arbitrary state close to the Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer observations. Without the actions of the adsorbing regolith the equilibrated water cycle is found to be a factor of 2-4 too wet. The process by which this occurs is by adsorption of water during northern hemisphere summer in northern mid and high latitudes where it remains locked in until northern spring when the seasonal CO2 ice cap retreats. At this time the water diffuses out of the regolith in response to increased temperature and is returned to the residual water ice cap by eddie transport.
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