Aspects of the atmospheric surface layers on Mars and Earth

Søren Ejling Larsen, Hans Ejsing Jørgensen, L. Landberg, J.E. Tillman

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The structures of mean flow and turbulence in the atmospheric surface boundary layer have been extensively studied on Earth, and to a far less extent on Mars, where only the Viking missions and the Pathfinder mission have delivered in-situ data. Largely the behaviour of surface-layer turbulence and mean flow on Mars is found to obey the same scaling laws as on Earth. The largest micrometeorological differences between the two atmospheres are associated with the low air density of the Martian atmosphere. Together with the virtual absence of water vapour, it reduces the importance of the atmospheric heat flux in the surface energy budget. This increases the temperature variation of the surface forcing the near-surface temperature gradient and thereby the diabatic heat flux to higher values than are typical on the Earth, resulting in turn in a deeper daytime boundary layer. As wind speed is much like that of the Earth, this larger diabatic heat flux is carried mostly by larger maximal values of T-*, the surface scale temperature. The higher kinematic viscosity yields a Kolmogorov scale of the order of ten times larger than on Earth, influencing the transition between rough and smooth flow for the same surface features.

    The scaling laws have been validated analysing the Martian surface-layer data for the relations between the power spectra of wind and temperature turbulence and the corresponding mean values of wind speed and temperature. Usual spectral formulations were used based on the scaling laws ruling the Earth atmospheric surface layer, whereby the Earth's atmosphere is used as a standard for the Martian atmosphere.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)451-470
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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