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Investigating the Linkage Between Spiral Trough Morphology and Cloud Coverage on the Martian North Polar Layered Deposits
  • Katherine Anne Lutz,
  • Robert L Hawley,
  • Marisa Christina Palucis
Katherine Anne Lutz
Dartmouth College

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Robert L Hawley
Dartmouth College
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Marisa Christina Palucis
Dartmouth College
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The Martian North Polar Layered Deposits (NPLD) are composed of alternating water-ice and dust-rich layers resulting from atmospheric deposition and are key to understanding Mars’ climate cycles. Within these deposits are spiral troughs, whose migration affects deposition signals. To understand the relationship between NPLD stratigraphy and Martian climate, we must identify modern-day drivers of NPLD ice migration. Prevailing theory posits migration driven by upstream-migrating bed undulations bounded by hydraulic jumps, caused by katabatic winds flowing over trough walls with asymmetric cross-sectional relief. This is supported by trough-parallel clouds, whose formation has been attributed to hydraulic jumps.
We present a cloud atlas across the Martian north pole using ~13,800 THEMIS images spanning ~18 Earth years. We find trough-parallel clouds in ~400 images, with regions nearer to the pole having higher cloud frequency. We compare spiral trough geometry to our cloud atlas and find regions with trough-parallel clouds often correlate with metrics associated with modern-day sublimation-deposition cycles (i.e., relief and asymmetry), but not always. In some regions, troughs with morphologies conducive to cloud formation have no clouds. Overall, trough geometry varies greatly across the deposits, both within and between troughs, suggesting localized differences in deposition relative to migration, varying katabatic wind intensities, differing past climatic states influencing the troughs, varying trough initiation properties, or the possibility of additional mechanisms for trough initiation and migration (e.g., in-situ trough erosion). Understanding what controls trough shape variability across the NPLD and how these controls change through time and space is key when interpreting Martian paleoclimate. Abstract content goes here
05 Feb 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
10 Feb 2024Published in ESS Open Archive