2014 .

(23 publications)

O. Mousis, L. N. Fletcher, J.-P. Lebreton, P. Wurz, T. Cavalié, A. Coustenis, R. Courtin, D. Gautier, R. Helled, P. G. J. Irwin, A. D. Morse, N. Nettelmann, B. Marty, P. Rousselot, O. Venot, D. H. Atkinson, J. H. Waite, K. R. Reh, A. A. Simon, S. Atreya, N. André, M. Blanc, I. A. Daglis, G. Fischer, W. D. Geppert, T. Guillot, M. M. Hedman, R. Hueso, E. Lellouch, J. I. Lunine, C. D. Murray, J. O`Donoghue, M. Rengel, A. Sánchez-Lavega, F.-X. Schmider, A. Spiga, T. Spilker, J.-M. Petit, M. S. Tiscareno, M. Ali-Dib, K. Altwegg, S. J. Bolton, A. Bouquet, C. Briois, T. Fouchet, S. Guerlet, T. Kostiuk, D. Lebleu, R. Moreno, G. S. Orton, and J. Poncy. Scientific rationale for Saturn's in situ exploration. Planetary and Space Science, 104:29-47, 2014. [ bib | DOI | arXiv | ADS link ]

Remote sensing observations meet some limitations when used to study the bulk atmospheric composition of the giant planets of our solar system. A remarkable example of the superiority of in situ probe measurements is illustrated by the exploration of Jupiter, where key measurements such as the determination of the noble gases' abundances and the precise measurement of the helium mixing ratio have only been made available through in situ measurements by the Galileo probe. This paper describes the main scientific goals to be addressed by the future in situ exploration of Saturn placing the Galileo probe exploration of Jupiter in a broader context and before the future probe exploration of the more remote ice giants. In situ exploration of Saturn's atmosphere addresses two broad themes that are discussed throughout this paper: first, the formation history of our solar system and second, the processes at play in planetary atmospheres. In this context, we detail the reasons why measurements of Saturn's bulk elemental and isotopic composition would place important constraints on the volatile reservoirs in the protosolar nebula. We also show that the in situ measurement of CO (or any other disequilibrium species that is depleted by reaction with water) in Saturn's upper troposphere may help constraining its bulk O/H ratio. We compare predictions of Jupiter and Saturn's bulk compositions from different formation scenarios, and highlight the key measurements required to distinguish competing theories to shed light on giant planet formation as a common process in planetary systems with potential applications to most extrasolar systems. In situ measurements of Saturn's stratospheric and tropospheric dynamics, chemistry and cloud-forming processes will provide access to phenomena unreachable to remote sensing studies. Different mission architectures are envisaged, which would benefit from strong international collaborations, all based on an entry probe that would descend through Saturn's stratosphere and troposphere under parachute down to a minimum of 10 bar of atmospheric pressure. We finally discuss the science payload required on a Saturn probe to match the measurement requirements.

D. P. Hinson, S. W. Asmar, D. S. Kahan, V. Akopian, R. M. Haberle, A. Spiga, J. T. Schofield, A. Kleinböhl, W. A. Abdou, S. R. Lewis, M. Paik, and S. G. Maalouf. Initial results from radio occultation measurements with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: A nocturnal mixed layer in the tropics and comparisons with polar profiles from the Mars Climate Sounder. Icarus, 243:91-103, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) performs radio occultation (RO) measurements on selected orbits, generally once per day. We have retrieved atmospheric profiles from two subsets of data, yielding a variety of new results that illustrate the scientific value of the observations. One set of measurements sounded the tropics in northern summer at a local time ~1 h before sunrise. Some of these profiles contain an unexpected layer of neutral stability with a depth of ~4 km and a pressure at its upper boundary of ~160 Pa. The mixed layer is bounded above by a temperature inversion and below by another strong inversion adjacent to the surface. This type of structure is observed near Gale Crater, in the Tharsis region, and at a few other locations, whereas profiles in Amazonis Planitia and Elysium Planitia show no sign of a detached mixed layer with an overlying inversion. We supplemented the measurements with numerical simulations by the NASA Ames Mars General Circulation Model, which demonstrate that water ice clouds can generate this distinctive type of temperature structure through their influence on radiative transfer at infrared wavelengths. In particular, the simulations predict the presence of a nocturnal cloud layer in the Tharsis region at a pressure of ~150 Pa (~10 km above the surface), and the nighttime radiative cooling at cloud level is sufficient to produce a temperature inversion above the cloud as well as convective instability below the cloud, consistent with the observations. The second set of measurements sounded mid-to-high northern latitudes in spring, when carefully coordinated observations by the MRO Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) are also available. The differences between the RO and MCS temperature profiles are generally consistent with the expected performance of the two instruments. Within this set of 21 comparisons the average temperature difference is less than 1 K where the aerosol opacities are smaller than 10-3km-1 , at pressures of 10-50 Pa, whereas it increases to ~2 K where the aerosol opacities exceed this threshold, at pressures of 50-300 Pa. The standard deviation of the temperature difference is ~2 K, independent of pressure. The second set of RO measurements also provides unique information about the stability of the annual CO2 cycle and the dynamics near the edge of the seasonal CO2 ice cap.

B. Charnay, F. Forget, G. Tobie, C. Sotin, and R. Wordsworth. Titan's past and future: 3D modeling of a pure nitrogen atmosphere and geological implications. Icarus, 241:269-279, 2014. [ bib | DOI | arXiv | ADS link ]

Several clues indicate that Titan's atmosphere has been depleted in methane during some period of its history, possibly as recently as 0.5-1 billion years ago. It could also happen in the future. Under these conditions, the atmosphere becomes only composed of nitrogen with a range of temperature and pressure allowing liquid or solid nitrogen to condense. Here, we explore these exotic climates throughout Titan's history with a 3D Global Climate Model (GCM) including the nitrogen cycle and the radiative effect of nitrogen clouds. We show that for the last billion years, only small polar nitrogen lakes should have formed. Yet, before 1 Ga, a significant part of the atmosphere could have condensed, forming deep nitrogen polar seas, which could have flowed and flooded the equatorial regions. Alternatively, nitrogen could be frozen on the surface like on Triton, but this would require an initial surface albedo higher than 0.65 at 4 Ga. Such a state could be stable even today if nitrogen ice albedo is higher than this value. According to our model, nitrogen flows and rain may have been efficient to erode the surface. Thus, we can speculate that a paleo-nitrogen cycle may explain the erosion and the age of Titan's surface, and may have produced some of the present valley networks and shorelines. Moreover, by diffusion of liquid nitrogen in the crust, a paleo-nitrogen cycle could be responsible of the flattening of the polar regions and be at the origin of the methane outgassing on Titan.

T. Navarro, F. Forget, E. Millour, and S. J. Greybush. Detection of detached dust layers in the Martian atmosphere from their thermal signature using assimilation. Geophysical Research Letters, 41:6620-6626, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

Airborne dust modifies the thermal structure of the Martian atmosphere. The Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) first revealed local maxima of dust mass mixing ratio detached from the surface, not reproduced by global climate models (GCM). In this paper, the thermal signature of such detached layers is detected using data assimilation, an optimal combination of a GCM and observations. As dust influences the atmospheric temperatures, MCS temperature profiles are used to estimate the amount of dust in the atmosphere. Data assimilation of only MCS temperature information reproduces detached dust layers, independently confirming MCS's direct observations of dust. The resulting analyzed state has a smaller bias than an assimilation that does not estimate dust. This makes it a promising technique for Martian data assimilation, which is intended to support weather forecasting and weather research on Mars.

C. Herny, M. Massé, O. Bourgeois, S. Carpy, S. Le Mouélic, T. Appéré, I. B. Smith, A. Spiga, and S. Rodriguez. Sedimentation waves on the Martian North Polar Cap: Analogy with megadunes in Antarctica. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 403:56-66, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

Complex interactions between katabatic winds and the cryosphere may lead to the formation of sedimentation waves at the surface of ice sheets. These have been first described and named snow megadunes in Antarctica. Here we use topographic data, optical images, subsurface radar soundings and spectroscopic data acquired by Mars orbiters, to show that the surface of the Martian North Polar Cap displays two superimposed sets of sedimentation waves with differing wavelengths. These sedimentation waves have similarities with Antarctic snow megadunes regarding their surface morphology, texture, grain size asymmetry, and internal stratigraphic architecture. Both sets of Martian sedimentation waves present young ice and occasional sastrugi fields, indicative of net accumulation, on their shallow-dipping upwind sides, their tops and the intervening troughs. Old layers of dusty ice, indicative of net ablation, are exhumed on the steep-dipping downwind sides of the larger waves. Smooth surfaces of coarse-grained ice, indicative of reduced accumulation associated with sublimation metamorphism, cover the steep-dipping downwind sides of the smaller waves. These surface characteristics and the internal stratigraphy revealed by radar soundings are consistent with the interpretation that both sets of Martian sedimentation waves grow and migrate upwind in response to the development of periodic accumulation/ablation patterns controlled by katabatic winds. The recognition of these sedimentation waves provides the basis for the development of a common model of ice/wind interaction at the surface of Martian and terrestrial glaciers. Martian smaller waves, characterized by reduced net accumulation on their downwind sides, are analogous to Antarctic snow megadunes that have been described so far. A terrestrial equivalent remains to be discovered for the larger Martian waves, characterized by net ablation on their downwind sides.

S. Guerlet, A. Spiga, M. Sylvestre, M. Indurain, T. Fouchet, J. Leconte, E. Millour, R. Wordsworth, M. Capderou, B. Bézard, and F. Forget. Global climate modeling of Saturns atmosphere. Part I: Evaluation of the radiative transfer model. Icarus, 238:110-124, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

We have developed and optimized a seasonal, radiative-convective model of Saturns upper troposphere and stratosphere. It is used to investigate Saturns radiatively-forced thermal structure between 3 and 10-6 bar, and is intended to be included in a Saturn global climate model (GCM), currently under development. The main elements of the radiative transfer model are detailed as well as the sensitivity to spectroscopic parameters, hydrocarbon abundances, aerosol properties, oblateness, and ring shadowing effects. The vertical temperature structure and meridional seasonal contrasts obtained by the model are then compared to Cassini/CIRS observations. Several significant model-observation mismatches reveal that Saturns atmosphere departs from radiative equilibrium. For instance, we find that the modeled temperature profile is close to isothermal above the 2-mbar level, while the temperature retrieved from ground-based or Cassini/CIRS data continues to increase with altitude. Also, no local temperature minimum associated to the ring shadowing is observed in the data, while the model predicts stratospheric temperatures 10 K to 20 K cooler than in the absence of rings at winter tropical latitudes. These anomalies are strong evidence that processes other that radiative heating and cooling control Saturns stratospheric thermal structure. Finally, the model is used to study the warm stratospheric anomaly triggered after the 2010 Great White Spot. Comparison with recent Cassini/CIRS observations suggests that the rapid cooling phase of this warm beacon in May-June 2011 can be explained by radiative processes alone. Observations on a longer timeline are needed to better characterize and understand its long-term evolution.

J.-Y. Chaufray, F. Gonzalez-Galindo, F. Forget, M. Lopez-Valverde, F. Leblanc, R. Modolo, S. Hess, M. Yagi, P.-L. Blelly, and O. Witasse. Three-dimensional Martian ionosphere model: II. Effect of transport processes due to pressure gradients. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), 119:1614-1636, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

To study the transport of the ionospheric plasma on Mars, we have included a 3-D multifluid dynamical core in a Martian general circulation model. Vertical transport modifies the ion density above ˜160 km on the dayside, especially the ions produced at high altitudes like O+, N+, and C+. Near the exobase, the dayside to nightside flow velocity reaches few hundreds of m/s, due to a large horizontal pressure gradient. Comparison with Mars Express/Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms-3 measurements between 290 and 500 km suggests that this flow could account for at least 20% of the flow produced by the solar wind. This flow is not sufficient to populate substantially the nightside ionosphere at high altitudes, in agreement with recent observations, because of a strong nightside downward flow produced by vertical pressure gradient. The O2+ and NO+ ion densities on the nightside at low altitudes (˜130 km) are modified by this downward flow, compared to simulated densities without ion dynamics, while other ions are lost by chemical reactions. Variability at different time scales (diurnal, seasonal, and solar cycles) are studied. We simulate diurnal and seasonal variations of the ionospheric composition due to the variability of the neutral atmosphere and solar flux at the top of the atmosphere. The ionospheric dynamics are not strongly affected by seasons and solar cycles, and the retroaction of the ionosphere on the neutral atmosphere temperature and velocity is negligible compared to other physical processes below the exobase.

T. Navarro, J.-B. Madeleine, F. Forget, A. Spiga, E. Millour, F. Montmessin, and A. Määttänen. Global climate modeling of the Martian water cycle with improved microphysics and radiatively active water ice clouds. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), 119:1479-1495, 2014. [ bib | DOI | arXiv | ADS link ]

Water ice clouds play a key role in the radiative transfer of the Martian atmosphere, impacting its thermal structure, its circulation, and, in turn, the water cycle. Recent studies including the radiative effects of clouds in global climate models (GCMs) have found that the corresponding feedbacks amplify the model defaults. In particular, it prevents models with simple microphysics from reproducing even the basic characteristics of the water cycle. Within that context, we propose a new implementation of the water cycle in GCMs, including a detailed cloud microphysics taking into account nucleation on dust particles, ice particle growth, and scavenging of dust particles due to the condensation of ice. We implement these new methods in the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique GCM and find satisfying agreement with the Thermal Emission Spectrometer observations of both water vapor and cloud opacities, with a significant improvement when compared to GCMs taking into account radiative effects of water ice clouds without this implementation. However, a lack of water vapor in the tropics after Ls = 180deg is persistent in simulations compared to observations, as a consequence of aphelion cloud radiative effects strengthening the Hadley cell. Our improvements also allow us to explore questions raised by recent observations of the Martian atmosphere. Supersaturation above the hygropause is predicted in line with Spectroscopy for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Mars observations. The model also suggests for the first time that the scavenging of dust by water ice clouds alone fails to fully account for the detached dust layers observed by the Mars Climate Sounder.

C. Listowski, A. Määttänen, F. Montmessin, A. Spiga, and F. Lefèvre. Modeling the microphysics of CO2 ice clouds within wave-induced cold pockets in the martian mesosphere. Icarus, 237:239-261, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

Mesospheric CO2 ice clouds on Mars are simulated with a 1D microphysical model, which includes a crystal growth rate adapted to high supersaturations encountered in the martian mesosphere. Observational constraints (crystal radius and opacity) exist for these clouds observed during the day around the equator at 60-80 km altitude. Nighttime mesospheric clouds interpreted as CO2 ice clouds have also been characterized at low southern latitudes, at 90-100 km altitude. From modeling and observational evidence, it is believed that mesospheric clouds are formed within temperature minima created by thermal tides, where gravity wave propagation allows for the creation of supersaturated layers (cold pockets). Thus, temperature profiles perturbed by gravity waves are used in the model to initiate nucleation and maintain growth of CO2 ice crystals. We show that it is possible to reproduce the observed effective radii for daytime and nighttime clouds. Crystal sizes are mainly governed by the altitude where the cloud forms, and by the amplitude of supersaturation. The temporal and spatial behavior of the cloud is controlled by the extent and lifetime of the cold pocket. The cloud evaporates fast after the cold pocket has vanished, implying a strong correlation between gravity wave activity and CO2 cloud formation. Simulated opacities remain far below the observed ones as long as typical dust conditions are used. In the case of the lower daytime clouds, the enhanced mesospheric dust loading typically reached during dust storm conditions, allows for greater cloud opacities, close to observed values, by supplying the atmosphere with condensation nuclei. However, CO2 ice clouds are not detected during the dust storm season, and, because of fast sedimentation of dust particles, an exogenous supply (meteoritic flux) appears necessary to explain opacities of both daytime and nighttime mesospheric CO2 ice clouds along their whole period of observation.

L. J. Steele, S. R. Lewis, M. R. Patel, F. Montmessin, F. Forget, and M. D. Smith. The seasonal cycle of water vapour on Mars from assimilation of Thermal Emission Spectrometer data. Icarus, 237:97-115, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

We present for the first time an assimilation of Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) water vapour column data into a Mars global climate model (MGCM). We discuss the seasonal cycle of water vapour, the processes responsible for the observed water vapour distribution, and the cross-hemispheric water transport. The assimilation scheme is shown to be robust in producing consistent reanalyses, and the global water vapour column error is reduced to around 2-4 pr μm depending on season. Wave activity is shown to play an important role in the water vapour distribution, with topographically steered flows around the Hellas and Argyre basins acting to increase transport in these regions in all seasons. At high northern latitudes, zonal wavenumber 1 and 2 stationary waves during northern summer are responsible for spreading the sublimed water vapour away from the pole. Transport by the zonal wavenumber 2 waves occurs primarily to the west of Tharsis and Arabia Terra and, combined with the effects of western boundary currents, this leads to peak water vapour column abundances here as observed by numerous spacecraft. A net transport of water to the northern hemisphere over the course of one Mars year is calculated, primarily because of the large northwards flux of water vapour which occurs during the local dust storm around LS=240-260deg. Finally, outlying frost deposits that surround the north polar cap are shown to be important in creating the peak water vapour column abundances observed during northern summer.

J.-B. Madeleine, J. W. Head, F. Forget, T. Navarro, E. Millour, A. Spiga, A. Colaïtis, A. Määttänen, F. Montmessin, and J. L. Dickson. Recent Ice Ages on Mars: The role of radiatively active clouds and cloud microphysics. Geophysical Research Letters, 41:4873-4879, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

Global climate models (GCMs) have been successfully employed to explain the origin of many glacial deposits on Mars. However, the latitude-dependent mantle (LDM), a dust-ice mantling deposit that is thought to represent a recent “Ice Age,” remains poorly explained by GCMs. We reexamine this question by considering the effect of radiatively active water-ice clouds (RACs) and cloud microphysics. We find that when obliquity is set to 35deg, as often occurred in the past 2 million years, warming of the atmosphere and polar caps by clouds modifies the water cycle and leads to the formation of a several centimeter-thick ice mantle poleward of 30deg in each hemisphere during winter. This mantle can be preserved over the summer if increased atmospheric dust content obscures the surface and provides dust nuclei to low-altitude clouds. We outline a scenario for its deposition and preservation that compares favorably with the characteristics of the LDM.

L. Montabone, K. Marsh, S. R. Lewis, P. L. Read, M. D. Smith, J. Holmes, A. Spiga, D. Lowe, and A. Pamment. The Mars Analysis Correction Data Assimilation (MACDA) Dataset V1.0. Geoscience Data Journal, 1:129-139, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

The Mars Analysis Correction Data Assimilation (MACDA) dataset version 1.0 contains the reanalysis of fundamental atmospheric and surface variables for the planet Mars covering a period of about three Martian years (a Martian year is about 1.88 terrestrial years). This has been produced by data assimilation of observations from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft during its science mapping phase (February 1999-August 2004). In particular, we have used retrieved thermal profiles and total dust optical depths from the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) on board MGS. Data have been assimilated into a Mars global climate model (MGCM) using the Analysis Correction scheme developed at the UK Meteorological Office. The MGCM used is the UK spectral version of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD, Paris, France) MGCM. MACDA is a joint project of the University of Oxford and The Open University in the UK.

B. Dils, M. Buchwitz, M. Reuter, O. Schneising, H. Boesch, R. Parker, S. Guerlet, I. Aben, T. Blumenstock, J. P. Burrows, A. Butz, N. M. Deutscher, C. Frankenberg, F. Hase, O. P. Hasekamp, J. Heymann, M. De Mazière, J. Notholt, R. Sussmann, T. Warneke, D. Griffith, V. Sherlock, and D. Wunch. The Greenhouse Gas Climate Change Initiative (GHG-CCI): comparative validation of GHG-CCI SCIAMACHY/ENVISAT and TANSO-FTS/GOSAT CO2 and CH4 retrieval algorithm products with measurements from the TCCON. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 7:1723-1744, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

Column-averaged dry-air mole fractions of carbon dioxide and methane have been retrieved from spectra acquired by the TANSO-FTS (Thermal And Near-infrared Sensor for carbon Observations-Fourier Transform Spectrometer) and SCIAMACHY (Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Cartography) instruments on board GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite) and ENVISAT (ENVIronmental SATellite), respectively, using a range of European retrieval algorithms. These retrievals have been compared with data from ground-based high-resolution Fourier transform spectrometers (FTSs) from the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON). The participating algorithms are the weighting function modified differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) algorithm (WFMD, University of Bremen), the Bremen optimal estimation DOAS algorithm (BESD, University of Bremen), the iterative maximum a posteriori DOAS (IMAP, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Netherlands Institute for Space Research algorithm (SRON)), the proxy and full-physics versions of SRON's RemoTeC algorithm (SRPR and SRFP, respectively) and the proxy and full-physics versions of the University of Leicester's adaptation of the OCO (Orbiting Carbon Observatory) algorithm (OCPR and OCFP, respectively). The goal of this algorithm inter-comparison was to identify strengths and weaknesses of the various so-called round- robin data sets generated with the various algorithms so as to determine which of the competing algorithms would proceed to the next round of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Greenhouse Gas Climate Change Initiative (GHG-CCI) project, which is the generation of the so-called Climate Research Data Package (CRDP), which is the first version of the Essential Climate Variable (ECV) “greenhouse gases” (GHGs). <BR /><BR /> For XCO2, all algorithms reach the precision requirements for inverse modelling ( 8 ppm), with only WFMD having a lower precision (4.7 ppm) than the other algorithm products (2.4-2.5 ppm). When looking at the seasonal relative accuracy (SRA, variability of the bias in space and time), none of the algorithms have reached the demanding 0.5 ppm threshold. <BR /><BR /> For XCH4, the precision for both SCIAMACHY products (50.2 ppb for IMAP and 76.4 ppb for WFMD) fails to meet the 34 ppb threshold for inverse modelling, but note that this work focusses on the period after the 2005 SCIAMACHY detector degradation. The GOSAT XCH4 precision ranges between 18.1 and 14.0 ppb. Looking at the SRA, all GOSAT algorithm products reach the 10 ppm threshold (values ranging between 5.4 and 6.2 ppb). For SCIAMACHY, IMAP and WFMD have a SRA of 17.2 and 10.5 ppb, respectively.

J. A. Sinclair, P. G. J. Irwin, L. N. Fletcher, T. Greathouse, S. Guerlet, J. Hurley, and C. Merlet. From Voyager-IRIS to Cassini-CIRS: Interannual variability in Saturns stratosphere? Icarus, 233:281-292, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

We present an intercomparison of Saturns stratosphere between Voyager 1-IRIS observations in 1980 and Cassini-CIRS observations in 2009 and 2010. Over a saturnian year (~29.5 years) has now passed since the Voyager flybys of Saturn in 1980/1981. Cassini observations in 2009/2010 capture Saturn in the same season as Voyager observations (just after the vernal equinox) but one year later. Any differences in Saturns atmospheric properties implied by a comparison of these two datasets could therefore reveal the extent of interannual variability. We retrieve temperature and stratospheric acetylene and ethane concentrations from Voyager 1-IRIS (Δν=4.3 cm-1) observations in 1980 and Cassini-CIRS (Δν=15.5 cm-1) FIRMAP observations in 2009 and 2010. We observe a difference in temperature at the equator of 7.1 1.2 K at the 2.1-mbar level that implies that the two datasets have captured Saturns semiannual oscillation (SSAO) in a slightly different phase suggesting that its period is more quasi-semiannual. Elevated concentrations of acetylene at 25degS in 1980 with respect to 2010 imply stronger downwelling at the former date which may also be explained by a difference in the phase of the SSAO and its dynamical forcing at low latitudes. At high-southern and high-northern latitudes, stratospheric temperatures and hydrocarbon concentrations appear elevated in 1980 with respect to 2009/2010. This could be an artefact of the low signal-to-noise ratio of the corresponding observations but might also be explained by increased auroral activity during solar maximum in 1980.

J. Audouard, F. Poulet, M. Vincendon, J.-P. Bibring, F. Forget, Y. Langevin, and B. Gondet. Mars surface thermal inertia and heterogeneities from OMEGA/MEX. Icarus, 233:194-213, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

The thermophysical structure of the martian surface is the result of various processes that have shaped the martian surface through time. Previous dedicated heliosynchronous measurements of the thermal infrared (IR) flux of the martian surface have revealed the diversity of martian surface thermal properties, as well as its complexity linked to the heterogeneous nature of terrains. We present the first retrieval of thermophysical properties of the martian surface using near-infrared (NIR) Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, lEau, les Glaces et lActivité (OMEGA) onboard Mars Express (MEX) thermal measurements from 5 to 5.1 μm. MEX orbit around Mars is elliptical and therefore OMEGA has performed surface temperature measurements at various local times and seasons over more than 4 full martian years. We have developed a method to exploit these unprecedented measurements using a one-dimensional energy balance code derived from a Global Climate Model that allows retrieval of the thermal properties of the martian surface using OMEGA data. Regional maps of the thermal inertia at a resolution up to 32 pixels per degree and a global map at 4 pixels per degree are presented. OMEGA-derived thermal inertia values agree with previous mappings by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) onboard Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Thermal Emission Imaging Spectrometer (THEMIS) onboard Mars Odyssey and highlight the key role of dust for the thermal behavior of the martian surface. OMEGA directly reveals for the first time some diurnal variations of apparent TI attributable to surface heterogeneities at macroscopic scale and enables to quantify these heterogeneities. In Nili Patera and Tharsis, local surface heterogeneities are modeled with layering and horizontal admixture of divergent slopes respectively.

D. Grassi, R. Politi, N. I. Ignatiev, C. Plainaki, S. Lebonnois, P. Wolkenberg, L. Montabone, A. Migliorini, G. Piccioni, and P. Drossart. The Venus nighttime atmosphere as observed by the VIRTIS-M instrument. Average fields from the complete infrared data set. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), 119:837-849, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

We present and discuss here the average fields of the Venus atmosphere derived from the nighttime observations in the 1960-2350 cm-1 spectral range by the VIRTIS-M instrument on board the Venus Express satellite. These fields include: (a) the air temperatures in the 1-100 mbar pressure range (˜85-65 km above the surface), (b) the altitude of the clouds top, and (c) the average CO mixing ratio. A new retrieval code based on the Bayesian formalism has been developed and validated on simulated observations, to statistically assess the retrieval capabilities of the scheme once applied to the VIRTIS data. The same code has then been used to process the entire VIRTIS-M data set. Resulting individual retrievals have been binned on the basis of local time and latitude, to create average fields. Air temperature fields confirm the general trends previously reported in Grassi et al. (2010), using a simplified retrieval scheme and a more limited data set. At the lowest altitudes probed by VIRTIS (˜65 km), air temperatures are strongly asymmetric around midnight, with a pronounced minima at 3LT, 70degS. Moving to higher levels, the air temperatures first become more uniform in local time (˜75 km), then display a colder region on the evening side at the upper boundary of VIRTIS sensitivity range (˜80 km). As already shown by Ignatiev et al. (2008) for the dayside, the cloud effective altitude increases monotonically from the south pole to the equator. However, the variations observed in night data are consistent with an overall variation of just 1 km, much smaller than the 4 km reported for the dayside. The cloud altitudes appear slightly higher on the evening side. Both observations are consistent with a less vigorous meridional circulation on the nightside of the planet. Carbon monoxide is not strongly constrained by the VIRTIS-M data. However, average fields present a clear maximum of 80 ppm around 60degS, well above the retrieval uncertainty. Once the intrinsic low sensitivity of VIRTIS data in the region of cold collar is kept in mind, this datum is consistent with a [CO] enrichment toward the poles driven by meridional circulation.

H. Takagi, S. Houweling, R. J. Andres, D. Belikov, A. Bril, H. Boesch, A. Butz, S. Guerlet, O. Hasekamp, S. Maksyutov, I. Morino, T. Oda, C. W. O'Dell, S. Oshchepkov, R. Parker, M. Saito, O. Uchino, T. Yokota, Y. Yoshida, and V. Valsala. Influence of differences in current GOSAT XCO2 retrievals on surface flux estimation. Geophysical Research Letters, 41:2598-2605, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

We investigated differences in the five currently-available datasets of column-integrated CO2 concentrations (XCO2) retrieved from spectral soundings collected by Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) and assessed their impact on regional CO2 flux estimates. We did so by estimating the fluxes from each of the five XCO2 datasets combined with surface-based CO2 data, using a single inversion system. The five XCO2 datasets are available in raw and bias-corrected versions, and we found that the bias corrections diminish the range of the five coincident values by ˜30% on average. The departures of the five individual inversion results (annual-mean regional fluxes based on XCO2-surface combined data) from the surface-data-only results were close to one another in some terrestrial regions where spatial coverage by each XCO2 dataset was similar. The mean of the five annual global land uptakes was 1.7 0.3 GtC yr-1, and they were all smaller than the value estimated from the surface-based data alone.

A. Galli, S. Guerlet, A. Butz, I. Aben, H. Suto, A. Kuze, N. M. Deutscher, J. Notholt, D. Wunch, P. O. Wennberg, D. W. T. Griffith, O. Hasekamp, and J. Landgraf. The impact of spectral resolution on satellite retrieval accuracy of CO2 and CH4. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 7:1105-1119, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

The Fourier-transform spectrometer on board the Japanese GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite) satellite offers an excellent opportunity to study the impact of instrument resolution on retrieval accuracy of CO2 and CH4. This is relevant to further improve retrieval accuracy and to optimize the cost-benefit ratio of future satellite missions for the remote sensing of greenhouse gases. To address this question, we degrade GOSAT measurements with a spectral resolution of 0.24 cm-1 step by step to a resolution of 1.5 cm-1. We examine the results by comparing relative differences at various resolutions, by referring the results to reference values from the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON), and by calculating and inverting synthetic spectra for which the true CO2 and CH4 columns are known. The main impacts of degrading the spectral resolution are reproduced for all approaches based on GOSAT measurements; pure forward model errors identified with simulated measurements are much smaller. <BR /><BR /> For GOSAT spectra, the most notable effect on CO2 retrieval accuracy is the increase of the standard deviation of retrieval errors from 0.7 to 1.0% when the spectral resolution is reduced by a factor of six. The retrieval biases against atmospheric water abundance and air mass become stronger with decreasing resolution. The error scatter increase for CH4 columns is less pronounced. The selective degradation of single spectral windows demonstrates that the retrieval accuracy of CO2 and CH4 is dominated by the spectral range where the absorption lines of the target molecule are located. For both GOSAT and synthetic measurements, retrieval accuracy decreases with lower spectral resolution for a given signal-to-noise ratio, suggesting increasing interference errors.

F. Forget and J. Leconte. Possible climates on terrestrial exoplanets. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series A, 372:20130084-20130084, 2014. [ bib | DOI | arXiv | ADS link ]

What kind of environment may exist on terrestrial planets around other stars? In spite of the lack of direct observations, it may not be premature to speculate on exoplanetary climates, for instance to optimize future telescopic observations, or to assess the probability of habitable worlds. To first order, climate primarily depends on 1) The atmospheric composition and the volatile inventory; 2) The incident stellar flux; 3) The tidal evolution of the planetary spin, which can notably lock a planet with a permanent night side. The atmospheric composition and mass depends on complex processes which are difficult to model: origins of volatile, atmospheric escape, geochemistry, photochemistry. We discuss physical constraints which can help us to speculate on the possible type of atmosphere, depending on the planet size, its final distance for its star and the star type. Assuming that the atmosphere is known, the possible climates can be explored using Global Climate Models analogous to the ones developed to simulate the Earth as well as the other telluric atmospheres in the solar system. Our experience with Mars, Titan and Venus suggests that realistic climate simulators can be developed by combining components like a “dynamical core”, a radiative transfer solver, a parametrisation of subgrid-scale turbulence and convection, a thermal ground model, and a volatile phase change code. On this basis, we can aspire to build reliable climate predictors for exoplanets. However, whatever the accuracy of the models, predicting the actual climate regime on a specific planet will remain challenging because climate systems are affected by strong positive destabilizing feedbacks (such as runaway glaciations and runaway greenhouse effect). They can drive planets with very similar forcing and volatile inventory to completely different states.

P. H. Lauritzen, J. T. Bacmeister, T. Dubos, S. Lebonnois, and M. A. Taylor. Held-Suarez simulations with the Community Atmosphere Model Spectral Element (CAM-SE) dynamical core: A global axial angular momentum analysis using Eulerian and floating Lagrangian vertical coordinates. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 6:129-140, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

In this paper, an analysis of the global AAM conservation properties of NCAR's Community Atmosphere Model Spectral Element (CAM-SE) dynamical core under Held-Suarez forcing is presented. It is shown that the spurious sources/sinks of AAM in CAM-SE are 3 orders of magnitude smaller than the parameterized (physical) sources/sinks. The effect on AAM conservation by changing various numerical aspects of the dynamical core (e.g., different vertical coordinates, reduced formal order of accuracy, increased dissipation, and decreased divergence damping) is investigated. In particular, it is noted that changing from Eulerian (hybrid-sigma) to floating Lagrangian vertical coordinates does not alter the global AAM conservation properties of CAM-SE.

B. Samuel, J. Leconte, D. Rouan, F. Forget, A. Léger, and J. Schneider. Constraining physics of very hot super-Earths with the James Webb Telescope. The case of CoRot-7b. Astronomy Astrophysics, 563:A103, 2014. [ bib | DOI | arXiv | ADS link ]

Context. Transit detection from space using ultra-precise photometry led to the first detection of super-Earths with solid surfaces: CoRot-7b and Kepler-10b. Because they lie only a few stellar radii from their host stars, these two rocky planets are expected to be extremely hot. <BR /> Aims: Assuming that these planets are in a synchronous rotation state and receive strong stellar winds and fluxes, previous studies have suggested that they must be atmosphere-free and that a lava ocean is present on their hot dayside. In this article, we use several dedicated thermal models of the irradiated planet to study how observations with NIRSPEC on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) could further confirm and constrain, or reject the atmosphere-free lava ocean planet model for very hot super-Earths. <BR /> Methods: Using CoRoT-7b as a working case, we explore the consequences on the phase-curve of a non tidal-locked rotation, with the presence/absence of an atmosphere, and for different values of the surface albedo. We then simulate future observations of the reflected light and thermal emission from CoRoT-7b with NIRSPEC-JWST and look for detectable signatures, such as time lag, of those peculiarities. We also study the possibility to retrieve the latitudinal surface temperature distribution from the observed SED. <BR /> Results: We demonstrate that we should be able to constrain several parameters after observations of two orbits (42 h) thanks to the broad range of wavelengths accessible with JWST: i) the Bond albedo is retrieved to within 0.03 in most cases. ii) The lag effect allows us to retrieve the rotation period within 3 h of a non phase-locked planet, whose rotation would be half the orbital period; for longer period, the accuracy is reduced. iii) Any spin period shorter than a limit in the range 30-800 h, depending on the thickness of the thermal layer in the soil, would be detected. iv) The presence of a thick gray atmosphere with a pressure of one bar, and a specific opacity higher than 10-5 m-2 kg-1 is detectable. v) With spectra up to 4.5 μm, the latitudinal temperature profile can be retrieved to within 30 K with a risk of a totally wrong solution in 5% of the cases. This last result is obtained for a signal-to-noise ratio around 5 per resel, which should be reached on Corot-7 after a total exposure time of ˜70 h with NIRSPEC and only three hours on a V = 8 star. <BR /> Conclusions: We conclude that it should thus be possible to distinguish the reference situation of a lava ocean with phase-locking and no atmosphere from other cases. In addition, obtaining the surface temperature map and the albedo brings important constraints on the nature or the physical state of the soil of hot super-Earths.

W. K. Hartmann, V. Ansan, D. C. Berman, N. Mangold, and F. Forget. Comprehensive analysis of glaciated martian crater Greg. Icarus, 228:96-120, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

The 66-km diameter martian crater, Greg, east of Hellas, hosts various distinctive features, including dendritic valleys filled with chevron-textured masses (south wall), and lobate tongues a few kilometers long (north wall). We analyze these features by various quantitative techniques to illuminate martian geologic and climatic history. Crater retention model ages indicate that Greg is at least 1-3 Gy old, but surface layers of mantles and glacial features are orders of magnitude younger. Properties of the dendritic valleys, combined with climate models, suggest that fluvial activity began under a thicker, warmer atmosphere, soon after the crater's formation. The oldest exposed fluvial systems have surface crater retention ages of a few hundred My, indicating runoff in recent geologic time. Much of Greg is covered by ice-rich mantle deposits, for which we infer gradual accumulation and depths of order 30-85 m; they mask pre-existing landforms. The lobate tongues are interpreted as glaciers with mean slope of 10.2 2.3deg and average thickness of 33 19 m. Our calculations and data suggest that these glaciers were originally ice-rich and that their surface layers have been depleted by volatile loss. The glaciers probably formed when ice-rich mantle deposits reached critical thickness and flowed downhill. The top 5-10 m of the mantle and glaciers show crater survival times of order a few My to 15 My, which, remarkably, is the time since the last 1-4 episodes of obliquity 45deg. Global climate models affirm that Greg lies in one of two non-polar areas with extremes of ice deposition during high-obliquity epochs. This match with observations supports the use of such models in studies of planetary climate change.

D. Reiss, A. Spiga, and G. Erkeling. The horizontal motion of dust devils on Mars derived from CRISM and CTX/HiRISE observations. Icarus, 227:8-20, 2014. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

We derived the horizontal motion (speed and direction) of dust devils from time-delayed Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) coordinated image data sets of the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) to the Context Camera (CTX) and/or the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) acquired between 2008 and 2011. In total, 47 dust devils were observed in 15 regions with diameters ranging from 15 to 280 m with an average diameter of 100 m and heights from 40 to 4400 m. Horizontal speeds of 44 dust devils range from 4 to 25 ms-1 with average speeds of 12 ms-1. The majority of dust devils were observed in the northern hemisphere (79%), mainly in Amazonis Planitia (67.5% from the northern hemisphere dust devils). Seasonal occurrence of dust devils in the northern hemisphere is predominant in early and mid spring (76%). We compared our measured dust devil horizontal speeds and directions of motion to the Climate Database (MCD) derived from General Circulation Model (GCM) predictions. There is a broad agreement between dust devil horizontal speeds and MCD wind speed predictions within the Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) as well as dust devil directions of motion and MCD predicted wind directions occurring within the PBL. Comparisons between dust devil horizontal speeds and MCD near-surface wind speed predictions at 10 m height above the surface do not correlate well: dust devils move about a factor of 2 faster than MCD near-surface wind predictions. The largest offsets between dust devil motion and MCD predictions were related to three dust devils occurring near the Phoenix landing site when the lander was still active. The offsets could be explained by a regional weather front passing over the Phoenix landing site. In general, the good agreement between dust devil horizontal speeds and directions of motion, and ambient wind speeds and directions predicted within the PBL through GCM, show that dust devils on Mars move with ambient winds in the PBL, hence faster than near surface winds.