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Orbital Observations of Dust Lofted by Daytime Convective Turbulence

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Abstract

Over the past several decades, orbital observations of lofted dust have revealed the importance of mineral aerosols as a climate forcing mechanism on both Earth and Mars. Increasingly detailed and diverse data sets have provided an ever-improving understanding of dust sources, transport pathways, and sinks on both planets, but the role of dust in modulating atmospheric processes is complex and not always well understood. We present a review of orbital observations of entrained dust on Earth and Mars, particularly that produced by the dust-laden structures produced by daytime convective turbulence called “dust devils”. On Earth, dust devils are thought to contribute only a small fraction of the atmospheric dust budget; accordingly, there are not yet any published accounts of their occurrence from orbit. In contrast, dust devils on Mars are thought to account for several tens of percent of the planet’s atmospheric dust budget; the literature regarding martian dust devils is quite rich. Because terrestrial dust devils may temporarily contribute significantly to local dust loading and lowered air quality, we suggest that martian dust devil studies may inform future studies of convectively-lofted dust on Earth.

As on Earth, martian dust devils form most commonly when the insolation reaches its daily and seasonal peak and where a source of loose dust is plentiful. However this pattern is modulated by variations in weather, albedo, or topography, which produce turbulence that can either enhance or suppress dust devil formation. For reasons not well understood, when measured from orbit, martian dust devil characteristics (dimensions, and translational and rotational speeds) are often much larger than those measured from the ground on both Earth and Mars. Studies connecting orbital observations to those from the surface are needed to bridge this gap in understanding. Martian dust devils have been used to remotely probe conditions in the PBL (e.g., CBL depth, wind velocity); the same could be done in remote locations on Earth. Finally, martian dust devils appear to play a major role in the dust cycle, waxing and waning in relative importance and spatial patterns of occurrence with the planet’s orbital state. Orbital studies of terrestrial dust devils would provide a basis for comparative planetology that would broaden the understanding of these dusty vortices on both planets.

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Abbreviations

ADEOS:

Advanced Earth Observing Satellite

AOT:

aerosol optical thickness

ASTER:

Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission Spectrometer

AVHRR:

Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer

CALIOP:

Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization

CALIPSO:

Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations

CBL:

convective boundary layer

CTX:

Context Camera

DD:

dust devil

DOD:

dust optical depth

DOT:

dust optical thickness

EPF:

emission phase function

EY:

Earth year

FOV:

field of view

GCM:

global circulation model

GLAS:

Geoscience Laser Altimeter System

GLI:

Global Imager

GOCART:

Goddard Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transport

HiRISE:

High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment

HRSC:

High Resolution Stereo Camera

ICESat:

Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite

IR:

infrared

IRIS:

Infrared Interferometric Spectrometer

IRTM:

Infrared Thermal Mapper

LITE:

Lidar In-Space Technology Experiment

LW:

long wave

MARCI:

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Color Imager

MCS:

Mars Climate Sounder

MEX:

Mars Express

MGS:

Mars Global Surveyor

MOC NA:

Mars Orbiter Camera Narrow Angle

MOC WA:

Mars Orbiter Camera Wide Angle

MODIS:

Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer

MOLA:

Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter

MRO:

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

MSG:

Meteosat Second Generation

MSL:

Mars Science Laboratory Multi-angle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer

MY:

Mars Year

MVIRI:

Meteosat Visible Infra-Red Imager

NOAA:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

ODY:

Mars Odyssey

PBL:

planetary boundary layer

POLDER:

Polarization and Directionality of the Earth’s Reflectances

PSD:

particle size distribution

SeaWiFS:

Sea-viewing Wide Field of view Sensor

SRC:

Super-resolution Camera

SEVIRI:

Spinning Enhanced Visible Infra-Red Imager

SPICAM:

Spectroscopy for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Mars

SW:

short wave

TES:

Thermal Emission Spectrometer

THEMIS IR:

Thermal Emission Imaging System, Infrared camera

THEMIS VIS:

THEMIS Visible camera

TIROS:

Television and Infra-Red Observation Satellite

UV:

ultraviolet

VCS-MA:

Vidicon Camera System—Medium Angle

VIS: TOMS:

Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer Visual Imaging Subsystems

VL1:

Viking Lander 1

VL2:

Viking Lander 2

VO1:

Viking Orbiter 1

VO2:

Viking Orbiter 2

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Fenton, L., Reiss, D., Lemmon, M. et al. Orbital Observations of Dust Lofted by Daytime Convective Turbulence. Space Sci Rev 203, 89–142 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-016-0243-6

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