Traveling Waves in the Martian Atmosphere from MGS TES Nadir Data.

Physics

Scientific paper

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0343 Planetary Atmospheres (5405, 5407, 5409, 5704, 5705, 5707), 3319 General Circulation, 3346 Planetary Meteorology (5445, 5739), 3384 Waves And Tides, 5409 Atmospheres: Structure And Dynamics

Scientific paper

We have characterized the annual behavior of martian atmospheric traveling waves in the MGS TES data set from the first two martian years of mapping. There is a high degree of repeatability between the two years. They are dominated by strong low zonal wavenumber waves with high amplitudes near the polar jets, strongest in late northern fall and early northern winter. The m=1 waves have amplitudes up to about 20K, are vertically extended, and occasionally extend even into the tropics. Periods for m=1 range from 2.5 to 30 sols. Much weaker waves were identified in the south, with amplitudes less than about 3.5K. Traveling waves with m=2 and m=3 are also seen, but their amplitudes are typically limited to less than 4K, and are generally more confined near the surface. In the north, they are more evident in fall and spring rather than winter solstice, which is clearly dominated by m=1 waves. EP flux divergences show the waves extracting energy from the zonal mean winds. When the m=1 waves were strongest, decelerations of the zonal jet of order 30m/s/sol were measured. Above 1 scale height, the waves extract energy from the jet predominately through barotropic processes, but their character is overall mixed barotropic/baroclinic. Inertial instabilities may exist at altitude on the equatorward flanks of the polar jets, and marginal stability extends through to the tropics. This may explain the coordination of the tropical behavior of the waves with that centered along the polar jet, consistent with the ideas expressed in Wilson et al. (2002) and similar to those in Barnes et al. (1993). Throughout the year, there exist large regions with the meridional gradient of PV less than zero, but they are strongest near winter solstice. Poleward of the winter jet, the regions of instability reach the surface, equatorward they do not. These regions, satisfying a necessary criterion for instability, likely explain the genesis of the waves, and perhaps also their bimodal character between surface (faster waves) and altitude (slow m=1 waves).

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