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Journal Articles Icarus Year : 2021

Martian cloud climatology and life cycle extracted from Mars Express OMEGA spectral images


A Martian water-ice cloud climatology has been extracted from OMEGA data covering 7 Martian years (MY 26–32) on the dayside. We derived two products, the Reversed Ice Cloud Index (ICIR) and the Percentage of Cloudy Pixels (PCP), indicating the mean cloud thickness and nebulosity over a regular grid (1° longitude × 1° latitude × 1° Ls × 1 h Local Time). The ICIR has been shown to be a proxy of the water-ice column derived from the Mars Climate Database. The PCP confirms the existence and location of the main cloud structures mapped with the ICIR, but also gives a more accurate image of the cloud cover. We observed a more dense cloud coverage over Hellas Planitia, the Lunae Planum region and over large volcanoes (Tharsis volcanoes, Olympus and Elysium Montes) in the aphelion belt. For the first time, thanks to the fact that Mars Express is not in Sun-synchronous orbit, we can explore the clouds diurnal cycle at a given season by combining the seven years of observations. However, because of the eccentric orbit, the temporal coverage remains limited. Identified limitations of the dataset are its small size, the difficult distinction between ice clouds and frosts, and the impact of surface albedo on data uncertainty. We could nevertheless study the diurnal cloud life cycle by averaging the data over larger regions: from specific topographic features (covering a few degrees in longitude and latitude) up to large climatic bands (covering all longitudes). We found that in the tropics (25°S – 25°N) around northern summer solstice, the diurnal thermal tide modulates the abundance of clouds, which is reduced around noon (Local Time). At northern midlatitudes (35°N – 55°N), clouds corresponding to the edge of the north polar hood are observed mainly in the morning and around noon during northern winter (Ls = 260° – 30°). Over Chryse Planitia, low lying morning fogs dissipate earlier and earlier in the afternoon during northern winter. Over Argyre, clouds are present over all daytime during two periods, around Ls = 30° and 160°.
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Dates and versions

insu-03024394 , version 1 (25-11-2020)





André Szantai, Joachim Audouard, François Forget, Kevin Olsen, Brigitte Gondet, et al.. Martian cloud climatology and life cycle extracted from Mars Express OMEGA spectral images. Icarus, 2021, 353, pp.114101. ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114101⟩. ⟨insu-03024394⟩
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