Executive Summary




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Combined studies of Atmospheric Structure, Circulation and Transport using General Circulation Models and Data from Mars Express


P. L. Read, F. W. Taylor, S. R. Lewis, P. G. J. Irwin, S. B. Calcutt

& C. E. Newman

Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics, University of Oxford, UK


A proposal by the Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics sub-Department of the University of Oxford for designation as a Recognised Cooperating Laboratory, in response to the Mars Express 2nd AO


Part I: Proposed Scientific Investigations


RCL Representative:


Dr P. L. Read

Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics,

Clarendon Laboratory,

Parks Road,

Oxford,

OX1 3PU

United Kingdom


Tel: +44 (0)1865 272082

Fax: +44 (0)1865 272923

Email: p.read1@physics.ox.ac.uk


Combined studies of Atmospheric Structure, Circulation and Transport using General Circulation Models and Data from Mars Express


P. L. Read, F. W. Taylor, S. R. Lewis, P. G. J. Irwin, S. B. Calcutt

& C. E. Newman

Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics, University of Oxford, UK

Executive Summary


We propose a series of investigations to form the programme for designation of the Department of Physics at Oxford University as a Recognised Cooperating Laboratory for the Mars Express Mission. The proposed investigations seek to combine the use of an advanced suite of numerical atmospheric models (GCMs) of the climate and circulation of Mars with new observations to be obtained from several instruments on the Mars Express orbiter and Beagle 2 lander in a variety of studies with the several aims:


  1. to verify and improve the capability of Mars GCMs to simulate and predict the meteorology and climate of Mars,

  2. to assimilate Mars Express data using the GCM to obtain synoptic analyses of the evolving state of the Martian atmosphere throughout the mission,

  3. to extend studies of the long-term climate and interannual variability of the Martian atmosphere and surface, beyond the period observed by Mars Global Surveyor,

  4. to make particular studies of diurnal variations and tides, dust processes and erosion, water transport and departures from LTE in the upper atmosphere on Mars, using model simulations verified by Mars Express observations, and

  5. to involve and engage young scientists and geoscientists in other disciplines in atmospheric sciences in the UK and beyond in scientific enquiry relating to the Mars Express mission.


The study of the global circulation of the Martian atmosphere and its interaction with the underlying surface are major objectives of the Mars Express mission. These have been the subject of intense study during the past several years, by ground-based observations, space-based observations from orbiting and in situ spacecraft, and via large-scale atmospheric models. Information to date from sources such as Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Pathfinder have indicated a high level of ability of numerical models to capture and represent many aspects of the large-scale atmospheric circulation and its climate and variability. The atmosphere of Mars, however, is a highly complex system, and observations to date have only revealed a limited range of this complexity. In particular, the use until now of sun-synchronous orbits for mapping instruments for Mars (such as MGS) limit the range of local times which can be sampled, so that our knowledge of dynamical processes on Mars which depend on diurnal effects is based on models with only partial validation.


The complement of instruments on board Mars Express will allow many new facets of the Martian atmosphere and environment to be investigated, and the use of a non-sun-synchronous orbit will enable many gaps in the coverage of earlier missions to be filled. In our proposal, we plan to make full use of the multi-disiplinary complement of instruments from both the orbiter and the Beagle 2 lander to investigate diurnal processes in the Martian environment, and to quantify our knowledge of the atmospheric cycles of dust, water vapour and CO2. We also plan to investigate radiative processes in the high atmosphere of Mars.


These investigations will proceed via a combination of comparisons of direct model simulations with appropriate observations from Mars Express and the assimilation of suitable observations into our model. The latter may allow us to generate data products which provide a much more comprehensive analysis of the state of the Martian atmosphere and environment than will be possible from Mars Express observations alone.


The team proposed for this RCL comprises a broad range of experience in atmospheric measurement, process modelling and large-scale numerical modelling and data analysis. The named key personnel all have an excellent, internationally recognised track record of research in this area, and are already substantially involved in comparable studies associated with other space missions, including Mars Global Surveyor and the forthcoming Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The team is based in one of the premier research universities in the UK, alongside other leading researchers in comparable areas of terrestrial atmospheric sciences. The team is excellently placed, therefore, to involve young scientists and students of the highest calibre in studies using Mars Express data, and to engage geoscientists in other disciplines in the scientific activities of the mission.


The team is well equipped to handle the data anticipated from the various instruments, and to disseminate products to the wider scientific community. The group currently benefits from stable support from the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) under its Rolling Grant scheme, and the work proposed for the RCL has the endorsement of PPARC for future incorporation into our Rolling Grant programme.

Table of Contents





Executive Summary 4

1. Scientific Background 7

1.1 General Circulation Models of Mars 7

1.2 Global atmospheric circulation 8

1.3 Atmospheric transport cycles 11

1.3.1 Dust 11

1.3.2 Carbon Dioxide 13

1.3.3 Water 13

2. Scientific Objectives 15

3. Scientific Analysis Plan 17

3.1 Methodology: use of MGCM 17

3.2 Process model/data comparisons 18

3.3 Data assimilation 18

3.4 Specific uses of Mars Express instrument data: 19

3.4.1 PFS 20

3.4.2 MaRS & SPICAM 20

3.4.3 HRSC 20

3.4.4 MARSIS 20

3.4.5 BEAGLE 2 21

4. Young Scientist Involvement and Dissemination of Data 21

4.1 Young scientist opportunities 21

4.2 Cross-fertilisation with Earth sciences 22

4.3 Archiving and dissemination of data 23

4.4 Meetings and workshops 23

REFERENCES 23

Part II: Curriculum Vitae of RCL staff 26

FREDRIC WILLIAM TAYLOR 28

PETER LEONARD READ 33

PATRICK GERARD JOSEPH IRWIN 37

STEPHEN RICHARD LEWIS 39

DR. SIMON CALCUTT 42

CLAIRE ELAINE NEWMAN 43

CONSOLIDATED PUBLICATIONS (1996 – present) 45

Part III: Management Structure and Funding Plans 54

1. Schedule 56

Table 1: Nominal schedule of main investigations 56

2. Key personnel – responsibilities & experience 56

3. Scientific Analysis Plan & Funding 57

ANNEX A: Letter of Endorsement from Head of Department 60

ANNEX B: Letter of Endorsement from funding body 62
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