Mesoscale (<100 km) atmospheric phenomena are ubiquitous on Mars, as revealed by Mars Orbiter Camera images1,2,3. Numerical models provide an important means of investigating martian atmospheric dynamics, for which data availability is limited. But the resolution of general circulation models, which are traditionally used for such research, is not sufficient to resolve mesoscale phenomena4,5,6. To provide better understanding of these relatively small-scale phenomena, mesoscale models have recently been introduced7,8,9. Here we simulate the mesoscale spiral dust cloud observed over the caldera of the volcano Arsia Mons by using the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modelling System. Our simulation uses a hierarchy of nested models with grid sizes ranging from 240 km to 3 km, and reveals that the dust cloud is an indicator of a greater but optically thin thermal circulation that reaches heights of up to 30 km, and transports dust horizontally over thousands of kilometres.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Open Access articles citing this article.
Earth, Planets and Space Open Access 03 January 2022
Space Science Reviews Open Access 14 December 2020
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
* In this Letter, "(see Supplementary Information)" should have appeared at the end of the third sentence of the third paragraph. At the end of the Letter, the line "Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on Nature’s website (http://www.nature.com/nature)." should have been included.
Cantor, B., Malin, M. & Edgett, K. S. Multiyear Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) observations of repeated Martian weather phenomena during the northern summer season. J. Geophys. Res. 107, 10.1029/2001JE001588 (2002)
Cantor, B. A., James, P. B., Caplinger, M. & Wolff, M. J. Martian dust storms: 1999 Mars Orbiter Camera observations. J. Geophys. Res. 106, 23653–23687 (2002)
Malin, M. C. & Edgett, K. S. Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera: Interplanetary cruise through primary mission. J. Geophys. Res. 106, 23429–23570 (2001)
Haberle, R. M. et al. General circulation model simulations of the Mars Pathfinder atmospheric structure investigation/meteorology data. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 8597–8974 (1999)
Wilson, R. J. & Hamilton, K. Comprehensive model simulation of thermal tides in the Martian atmosphere. J. Atmos. Sci. 53, 1290–1326 (1996)
Forget, F. et al. Improved general circulation models of the Martian atmosphere from the surface to above 80 km. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 24155–24175 (1999)
Rafkin, S. C. R., Haberle, R. M. & Michaels, T. I. The Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS): Model description and selected simulations. Icarus 151, 228–256 (2001)
Tyler, D., Barnes, J. R. & Haberle, R. M. Simulation of surface meteorology at the Pathfinder and VL1 sites using a Mars mesoscale model. J. Geophys. Res. 10.1029/2001JE001618 (2002)
Toigo, A. D. & Richardson, M. I. A mesoscale model for the Martian atmosphere. J. Geophys. Res. 107, 10.1029/2001JE001489 (2002)
Pielke, R. A. et al. A comprehensive meteorological modeling system—RAMS. Meteorol. Atmos. Phys. 49, 69–91 (1992)
Murphy, J. R., Haberle, R. M., Toon, O. B. & Pollack, J. B. Martian global dust storms: Zonally symmetric numeric simulations including size-dependent particle transport. J. Geophys. Res. 98, 3197–3220 (1993)
Hunt, G. E., Pickersgill, A. O., James, P. B. & Johnson, G. Some diurnal properties of clouds over the martian volcanoes. Nature 286, 362–364 (1980)
We thank Malin Space Science Systems and M. Malin for permitting the use of MOC imagery before release on Planetary Data System. We also thank A. Bridger for comments and suggestions. This work was supported by the NASA Planetary Atmosphere Program, the Mars Data Analysis Program and the Mars Global Surveyor Data Analysis Program.
The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Rafkin, S., Sta. Maria, M. & Michaels, T. Simulation of the atmospheric thermal circulation of a martian volcano using a mesoscale numerical model. Nature 419, 697–699 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01114
This article is cited by
Earth, Planets and Space (2022)
Space Science Reviews (2020)
Nature Geoscience (2019)
Nature Astronomy (2018)
Space Science Reviews (2012)