A 3D Microphysical Model of Titan's Methane Cloud


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5405 Atmospheres (0343, 1060), 6281 Titan

Scientific paper

A time-dependent idealized 3D microphysical model for Titan's methane cloud is described. This new high resolution microphysical model nests in a Titan WRF GCM model. It assumes the vapor-liquid equilibria of methane-nitrogen mixtures which are based on the recent chemical experiments and thermodynamics models. In particular, the methane is condensed at a given temperature and pressure. Meanwhile nitrogen is dissolved in the methane liquid. The new model first uses the data from the thermodynamic model (Kouvaris et al. 1991), which involves saturation criteria, composition of condensate, and latent heat for a given pressure-temperature profile. For altitudes lower than 14 km, methane is saturated and condensed into liquid phase. However for altitudes from 14 km above to tropopause, methane is changed into supercooled liquid state. Then, we do some testing experiments with 1D model by varying the initial methane vapor mass mixing ratio profile and the initial mole fraction of methane in liquid phase. Based on the steady state results from 1D model, an idealized 3D microphysics model is developed to investigate the convection cloud in Titan's troposphere. Due to lower relative humidity at titan's surface (Samuelson et al. 1997) and the current estimated moist adiabatic lapse rate, convection is hardly to happen without lifting. For this reason, we apply a symmetry cosine ridge in a 100*100 grids box to force the air flow lifted at certain levels, which in turn drives the condensation of methane vapor. In addition to the abundance of methane clouds and its duration provided by the 3D model, our study demonstrates that vertical motion might be likely the major cause of convection clouds in Titan's troposphere. As the future work, we will further investigate size-resolved microphysical scheme to insight into the nature of methane cycle in Titan's atmosphere.

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