31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 68. Mars Atmosphere: Relation to Surface Features and Poles II
Contributed Oral Parallel Session, Friday, October 15, 1999, 10:30-11:40am, Sala Plenaria

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[68.06] Simulations of Carbon Dioxide Cloud Formation at the Martian Poles

A. Colaprete, O. B. Toon (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics)

The Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) experiment flying onboard the Mars Global Surveyor has observed echoes from cloud tops above the north polar cap. Due to the location and time of year that these clouds are forming, it has been assumed that these clouds consist primarily of carbon dioxide ice particles. The structure of these echoes suggests that a number of these clouds may be the product of buoyancy or gravity waves (Zuber et al., 1998).

While the presence of carbon dioxide clouds in the Martian atmosphere is generally accepted, how and where they form is still not understood and little is known about the physics of carbon dioxide particle formation. Recently, Glandorf et al. (personal communication) measured the critical saturation ratio required for carbon dioxide to nucleate onto ice. From this measurement, using nucleation theory, the contact parameter between ice and carbon dioxide under Martian conditions was determined. Using the nucleation rates measured by Glandorf et al. we have developed a 2D time dependent microphyical simulation of carbon dioxide clouds forming in the Mars polar regions. In this simulation we explore the mechanism of cloud initiation by orographic waves and compare our results to MOLA observations.

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