Aeolian dunes as ground truth for atmospheric modeling on Mars

Rosalyn K. Hayward, Timothy N. Titus, Timothy I. Michaels, Lori K. Fenton, Anthony Colaprete, Philip Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Martian aeolian dunes preserve a record of atmosphere/surface interaction on a variety of scales, serving as ground truth for both Global Climate Models (GCMs) and mesoscale climate models, such as the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS). We hypothesize that the location of dune fields, expressed globally by geographic distribution and locally by dune centroid azimuth (DCA), may record the long-term integration of atmospheric activity across a broad area, preserving GCM-scale atmospheric trends. In contrast, individual dune morphology, as expressed in slipface orientation (SF), may be more sensitive to localized variations in circulation, preserving topographically controlled mesoscale trends. We test this hypothesis by comparing the geographic distribution, DCA, and SF of dunes with output from the Ames Mars GCM and, at a local study site, with output from MRAMS. When compared to the GCM: 1) dunes generally lie adjacent to areas with strongest winds, 2) DCA agrees fairly well with GCM modeled wind directions in smooth-floored craters, and 3) SF does not agree well with GCM modeled wind directions. When compared to MRAMS modeled winds at our study site: 1) DCA generally coincides with the part of the crater where modeled mean winds are weak, and 2) SFs are consistent with some weak, topographically influenced modeled winds. We conclude that: 1) geographic distribution may be valuable as ground truth for GCMs, 2) DCA may be useful as ground truth for both GCM and mesoscale models, and 3) SF may be useful as ground truth for mesoscale models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE11012
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Volume114
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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    Hayward, R. K., Titus, T. N., Michaels, T. I., Fenton, L. K., Colaprete, A., & Christensen, P. (2009). Aeolian dunes as ground truth for atmospheric modeling on Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets, 114(11), [E11012]. https://doi.org/10.1029/2009JE003428