Global vertical distribution of water vapor on Mars: Results from 3.5 years of ExoMars‐TGO/NOMAD science operations

Aoki, S.; Vandaele, A. C.; Daerden, F.; Villanueva, G. L.; Liuzzi, G.; Clancy, R. T.; Lopez‐Valverde, M. A.; Brines, A.; Thomas, I. R.; Trompet, L.; Erwin, J. T.; Neary, L.; Robert, S.; Piccialli, A.; Holmes, J. A.; Patel, M. R.; Yoshida, N.; Whiteway, J.; Smith, M. D.; Ristic, B.; Bellucci, G.; Lopez-Moreno, J. J. and Fedorova, A. A. (2022). Global vertical distribution of water vapor on Mars: Results from 3.5 years of ExoMars‐TGO/NOMAD science operations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 127(9), article no. e2022JE007231.



We present water vapor vertical distributions on Mars retrieved from 3.5 years of solar occultation measurements by Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery onboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which reveal a strong contrast between aphelion and perihelion water climates. In equinox periods, most of water vapor is confined into the low-middle latitudes. In aphelion periods, water vapor sublimated from the northern polar cap is confined into very low altitudes - water vapor mixing ratios observed at the 0-5 km lower boundary of measurement decrease by an order of magnitude at the approximate altitudes of 15 km and 30 km for the latitudes higher than 50°N and 30-50°N, respectively. The vertical confinement of water vapor at northern middle latitudes around aphelion is more pronounced in the morning terminators than evening, perhaps controlled by the diurnal cycle of cloud formation. Water vapor is also observed over the low latitude regions in the aphelion southern hemisphere (0-30°S) mostly below 10-20 km, which suggests north-south transport of water still occurs. In perihelion periods, water vapor sublimated from the southern polar cap directly reaches high altitudes (>80 km) over high southern latitudes, suggesting more effective transport by the meridional circulation without condensation. We show that heating during perihelion, sporadic global dust storms, and regional dust storms occurring annually around 330° of solar longitude (LS) are the main events to supply water vapor to the upper atmosphere above 70 km.

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