37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 32 Mars' Surface
Poster, Tuesday, September 6, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Recital Room

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[32.14] Seasonal evolution of the Martian cryptic region: influence of the atmospheric opacity

G. Portyankina, W.J. Markiewicz (Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany), K.J. Kossacki (Institute of Geophysics of Warsaw University, Warsaw, Poland)

Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) performed repeated observations of chosen areas in polar regions to monitor seasonal and/or annual changes. Images E09-00028 and R08-01730 centered at 82.5°S, 41°E were taken in years 2001 and 2003 respectively. They show the same morphological features, however differ significantly in surface albedo, the image from 2001 shows a lower albedo than the one from 2003. Imaged areas lie inside the cryptic region and show spider patterns. The observed interannual variability may be related to the global dust storm that happened in 2001 and finished around Ls=230°, i.e. just before image E09-00028 was taken. Here we model the seasonal ice sublimation/condensation cycle to show that the evolution of this particular area of the cryptic region was affected by the dust storm during year 2001. The model used for the present work has been described in Kossacki and Markiewicz, (2004). It includes self-consistent treatment of the sublimation and condensation of CO2 and H2O ices, and was used to calculate surface temperatures and thicknesses of CO2 and H2O ice layers for the corresponding conditions of these two years. Our modelling shows that the dust storm lowered surface temperatures, and thus caused later than usual seasonal sublimation of both CO2 and water ices. It also considerably decreased surface albedo and these two important effects almost cancel: the solar flux is reduced during a dust storm but at the same time the dust that precipitates onto the surface reduces the albedo and thus allows a bigger fraction of the solar radiation to be absorbed. The surface temperature stays at about 146K for almost half of the Martian year, both during 2001 and 2003. We also considered impact of the surface roughness: it results in some smoothing of the average temperature rise that is associated with the defrosting of the surface.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: portyankina@mps.mpg.de

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