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Greg Lawson
California Institute of Technology

Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Mesa Laboratory, Chapman Room
Lecture 12:00pm

Atmospheric Science & Data Assimilation.... on Mars

Studies in comparative climatology have often sought to compare and contrast the atmospheres of Mars and Earth. Both undergo similar rotation rates and have similar dynamically relevant length scales, yet the atmospheres differ in several key respects, most notably: their total mass & composition, their astronomic & orographic forcings, the relative importance of their hydrological cycles, and the existence of a radiatively active dust cycle. One other notable difference is that we have several orders of magnitude more observational coverage of Earth's atmosphere than that of Mars. Better understanding the Martian general circulation can provide physically realized sensitivities of the dynamics governing our own atmosphere; it can also be an interesting pursuit in its own right....
This talk outlines one terrestrial atmospheric scientist's quest to cross over into planetary atmospheric science:

  1. We begin with a brief overview of Martian atmospheric phenomenology and the historical observational record from which this has been gleaned.

  2. We then describe recent missions to Mars that have brought back atmospheric mapping data, mainly in the infrared.

  3. And we conclude with a discussion of whether the state-of-the-science has matured enough to feasibly attempt data assimilation within a Martian general circulation model.