On the link between martian total ozone and potential vorticity

Holmes, James A.; Lewis, Stephen R. and Patel, Manish R. (2017). On the link between martian total ozone and potential vorticity. Icarus, 282 pp. 104–117.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2016.10.004


We demonstrate for the first time that total ozone in the martian atmosphere is highly correlated with the dynamical tracer, potential vorticity, under certain conditions. The degree of correlation is investigated using a Mars global circulation model including a photochemical model. Potential vorticity is the quantity of choice to explore the dynamical nature of polar vortices because it contains information on winds and temperature in a single scalar variable. The correlation is found to display a distinct seasonal variation, with a strong positive correlation in both northern and southern winter at poleward latitudes in the northern and southern hemisphere respectively.

The identified strong correlation implies variations in polar total ozone during winter are predominantly controlled by dynamical processes in these spatio-temporal regions. The weak correlation in northern and southern summer is due to the dominance of photochemical reactions resulting from extended exposure to sunlight. The total ozone/potential vorticity correlation is slightly weaker in southern winter due to topographical variations and the preference for ozone to accumulate in Hellas basin. In northern winter, total ozone can be used to track the polar vortex edge.

The ozone/potential vorticity ratio is calculated for both northern and southern winter on Mars for the first time. Using the strong correlation in total ozone and potential vorticity in northern winter inside the polar vortex, it is shown that potential vorticity can be used as a proxy to deduce the distribution of total ozone where satellites cannot observe for the majority of northern winter. Where total ozone observations are available on the fringes of northern winter at poleward latitudes, the strong relationship of total ozone and potential vorticity implies that total ozone anomalies in the surf zone of the northern polar vortex can potentially be used to determine the origin of potential vorticity filaments.

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