Rethinking the General Circulation of the Atmosphere of Mars


Details

Date
Wednesday, August 03 2011 - 12:00 pm, PDT
Speaker
Scot Rafkin, Southwest Research Institute
Description

The paradigm for the general circulation of the Mars atmosphere is of a slow, overturning Hadley Cell with a seasonally-shifting rising branch that follows peak insolation. The Hadley cell is often cited as the dominant circulation responsible for the transport of dust, water, energy, and mass, although it has never been directly observed. Recent observations, over a decade of numerical modeling studies, and a glimpse back at Earth's circulation suggest that the simplistic notion of a Mars Hadley Cell is insufficient to describe the actual circulations responsible for transport. The case for a new paradigm--one dominated by strong, localized vertical transport--is presented and is shown to be consistent with observations.The paradigm for the general circulation of the Mars atmosphere is of a slow, overturning Hadley Cell with a seasonally-shifting rising branch that follows peak insolation. The Hadley cell is often cited as the dominant circulation responsible for the transport of dust, water, energy, and mass, although it has never been directly observed. Recent observations, over a decade of numerical modeling studies, and a glimpse back at Earth's circulation suggest that the simplistic notion of a Mars Hadley Cell is insufficient to describe the actual circulations responsible for transport. The case for a new paradigm--one dominated by strong, localized vertical transport--is presented and is shown to be consistent with observations.

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