Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published August 2010 | public
Journal Article

Convective instability in the martian middle atmosphere


Dry convective instabilities in Mars's middle atmosphere are detected and mapped using temperature retrievals from Mars Climate Sounder observations spanning 1.5 martian years. The instabilities are moderately frequent in the winter extratropics. The frequency and strength of middle atmospheric convective instability in the northern extratropics is significantly higher in MY 28 than in MY 29. This may have coupled with changes to the northern hemisphere mid-latitude and tropical middle atmospheric temperatures and contributed to the development of the 2007 global dust storm. We interpret these instabilities to be the result of gravity waves saturating within regions of low stability created by the thermal tides. Gravity wave saturation in the winter extratropics has been proposed to provide the momentum lacking in general circulation models to produce the strong dynamically-maintained temperature maximum at 1–2 Pa over the winter pole, so these observations could be a partial control on modeling experiments.

Additional Information

© 2010 Elsevier Inc. Received 30 July 2009; revised 17 March 2010; accepted 22 March 2010. Available online 29 March 2010. The authors acknowledge C. Backus, T. Pavlicek, and E. Sayfi for their contribution to the acquisition, analysis, and presentation of MCS data. We also would like to thank Jeff Barnes and an anonymous reviewer for helpful reviews that greatly improved this paper. The research described in this paper was carried out in part at and funded by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project.

Additional details

August 22, 2023
October 20, 2023