36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 41 Mars Atmosphere II
Oral, Friday, November 12, 2004, 8:30-10:00am, Lewis

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[41.06] Mesoscale simulations of water ice clouds in the Tharsis region of Mars

A. Colaprete (NASA Ames), T. I. Michaels, S. C. R. Rafkin (SWRI)

The conspicuous cloud cover over the Tharsis Montes has been known from the time astronomers first turned their telescopes to Mars. Since these first observations, it has been the general belief that the Tharsis Montes clouds form in ways similar to terrestrial mountain wave clouds: prevailing winds ascend slopes, cooling parcels of air adiabatically, resulting in condensation and clouds. As Mars continuously demonstrates, however, first impressions can be misleading and the reality can be more complex and, often times, very dissimilar to what was expected. The genesis of the Tharsis Montes clouds is unique to Mars. Presented in this talk are results from the first mesoscale simulations of water ice clouds in the Tharsis region. The simulations couple a highly sophisticated microphysical cloud model (CARMA) to a state-of-the-art, non-hydrostatic, mesoscale model (MRAMS). Results from the model compare well with observations from the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) and reveal a complex process of cloud formation and evolution that has implications for interpretation of observations, and further understanding of the water and dust cycles of Mars.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.