37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 45 Titan's Atmosphere
Poster, Wednesday, September 7, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Recital Room

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[45.11] 3D Simulations of methane convective storms on Titan's atmosphere

R Hueso, A. Sánchez-Lavega (Universidad del Paas Vasco)

The arrival of the Cassini/Huygens mission to Titan has opened an unprecedented opportunity to study the atmosphere of this satellite. Under the pressure-temperature conditions on Titan, methane, a large atmospheric component amounting perhaps to a 3-5% of the atmosphere, is close to its triple point, potentially playing a similar role as water on Earth. The Huygens probe has shown a terrain shaped by erosion of probably liquid origin, suggestive of past rain. On the other hand, Voyager IRIS spectroscopic observations of Titan imply a saturated atmosphere of methane (amounting perhaps to 150 covered by methane clouds, if we think on Earth meteorology. However, observations from Earth and Cassini have shown that clouds are localized, transient and fast evolving, in particular in the South Pole (currently in its summer season). This might imply a lack of widespread presence on Titan of nuclei where methane could initiate condensation and particle growth with subsequent precipitation. We investigate different scenarios of moist convective storms on Titan using a complete 3D atmospheric model that incorporates a full microphysics treatment required to study cloud formation processes under a saturated atmosphere with low concentration of condensation nuclei. We study local convective development under a variety of atmospheric conditions: sub-saturation, super-saturation, abundances of condensation nuclei fall, condensation nuclei lifted from the ground or gently falling from the stratosphere. We show that under the appropriate circumstances, precipitation rates comparable to typical tropical storms on Earth can be found.

Acknowledgements: This work has been funded by Spanish MCYT PNAYA2003-03216, fondos FEDER and Grupos UPV 15946/2004. R. Hueso acknowledges a post-doc fellowship from Gobierno Vasco.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: wubhualr@lg.ehu.es

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.