Mars Climate Sounder Observations of Gravity-wave Activity throughout Mars's Lower Atmosphere

Nicholas Heavens, Alexey Pankine, J. Micheal Battalio, Corwin Wright, David Kass, Armin Kleinboehl, Sylvian Piqueux, John Schofield

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9 Citations (SciVal)


Gravity waves are one way Mars’s lower atmospheric weather can affect the circulation and even composition of Mars’s middle and upper atmosphere. A recent study showed how on-planet observations near the center of the 15 μm CO 2 band by the A3 channel (635–665 cm −1) of the Mars Climate Sounder on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter could sense horizontally short, vertically broad gravity waves at ≈25 km above the surface by looking at small-scale radiance variability in temperature-sensitive channels. This approach is extended here to two additional channels closer to the wings of the 15 μm CO 2 band, A1 (595–615 cm −1) and A2 (615–645 cm −1), to sense gravity waves throughout the lower atmosphere. Using information from all three channels demonstrates that gravity-wave activity in Mars’s lowermost atmosphere is dominated by orographic sources, particularly over the extremely rough terrain of Valles Marineris. Much of this orographic population is either trapped or filtered in the lowest two scale heights, such that variations in filtering and nonorographic sources shape the gravity-wave population observed at 25 km above the surface. During global dust storms, however, gravity-wave activity in the first scale height decreases by approximately a factor of 2, yet trapping/filtering of what activity remains in the tropics substantially weakens. Exceptionally high radiance variability at night in the tropics during the less dusty part of the year is the result of observing mesospheric clouds rather than gravity waves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalThe Planetary Science Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2022


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