Dust devils on Earth and Mars

Balme, Matthew and Greeley, Ronald (2006). Dust devils on Earth and Mars. Reviews of Geophysics, 44(RG3003)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2005RG000188


Dust devils, particle-loaded vertical convective
vortices found on both Earth and Mars, are characterized
by high rotating wind speeds, significant electrostatic fields, and reduced pressure and enhanced temperature at their centers. On Earth they are subordinate to boundary layer winds in the dust cycle and, except possibly in arid regions, are only "nuisance-level" phenomena. On Mars, though, they seem to support the persistent background atmospheric haze, to influence the surface albedo through the formation of "tracks" on the surface, and to possibly endanger future exploration because of their high dust load and large potential gradients. High-resolution numerical simulations and thermophysical scaling models successfully describe dust devil–like vortices on Mars, but fitting dust devil action into the Martian global dust cycle is still problematic. Reliable parameterizations of their erosional abilities and solid temporal and spatial distribution data are still required to build and test a complete model of dust devil action.

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