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2008 .

(2 publications)

A. Crespin, S. Lebonnois, S. Vinatier, B. Bézard, A. Coustenis, N. A. Teanby, R. K. Achterberg, P. Rannou, and F. Hourdin. Diagnostics of Titan's stratospheric dynamics using Cassini/CIRS data and the 2-dimensional IPSL circulation model. Icarus, 197:556-571, October 2008. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

The dynamics of Titan's stratosphere is discussed in this study, based on a comparison between observations by the CIRS instrument on board the Cassini spacecraft, and results of the 2-dimensional circulation model developed at the Institute Pierre-Simon Laplace, available at [Rannou, P., Lebonnois, S., Hourdin, F., Luz, D., 2005. Adv. Space Res. 36, 2194-2198]. The comparison aims at both evaluating the model's capabilities and interpreting the observations concerning: (1) dynamical and thermal structure using temperature retrievals from Cassini/CIRS and the vertical profile of zonal wind at the Huygens landing site obtained by Huygens/DWE; and (2) vertical and latitudinal profiles of stratospheric gases deduced from Cassini/CIRS data. The modeled thermal structure is similar to that inferred from observations (Cassini/CIRS and Earth-based observations). However, the upper stratosphere (above 0.05 mbar) is systematically too hot in the 2D-CM, and therefore the stratopause region is not well represented. This bias may be related to the haze structure and to misrepresented radiative effects in this region, such as the cooling effect of hydrogen cyanide (HCN). The 2D-CM produces a strong atmospheric superrotation, with zonal winds reaching 200 m s -1 at high winter latitudes between 200 and 300 km altitude (0.1-1 mbar). The modeled zonal winds are in good agreement with retrieved wind fields from occultation observations, Cassini/CIRS and Huygens/DWE. Changes to the thermal structure are coupled to changes in the meridional circulation and polar vortex extension, and therefore affect chemical distributions, especially in winter polar regions. When a higher altitude haze production source is used, the resulting modeled meridional circulation is weaker and the vertical and horizontal mixing due to the polar vortex is less extended in latitude. There is an overall good agreement between modeled chemical distributions and observations in equatorial regions. The difference in observed vertical gradients of C 2H 2 and HCN may be an indicator of the relative strength of circulation and chemical loss of HCN. The negative vertical gradient of ethylene in the low stratosphere at 15deg S, cannot be modeled with simple 1-dimensional models, where a strong photochemical sink in the middle stratosphere would be necessary. It is explained here by dynamical advection from the winter pole towards the equator in the low stratosphere and by the fact that ethylene does not condense. Near the winter pole (80deg N), some compounds (C 4H 2, C 3H 4) exhibit an (interior) minimum in the observed abundance vertical profiles, whereas 2D-CM profiles are well mixed all along the atmospheric column. This minimum can be a diagnostic of the strength of the meridional circulation, and of the spatial extension of the winter polar vortex where strong descending motions are present. In the summer hemisphere, observed stratospheric abundances are uniform in latitude, whereas the model maintains a residual enrichment over the summer pole from the spring cell due to a secondary meridional overturning between 1 and 50 mbar, at latitudes south of 40-50deg S. The strength, as well as spatial and temporal extensions of this structure are a difficulty, that may be linked to possible misrepresentation of horizontally mixing processes, due to the restricted 2-dimensional nature of the model. This restriction should also be kept in mind as a possible source of other discrepancies.

C. Rio and F. Hourdin. A Thermal Plume Model for the Convective Boundary Layer: Representation of Cumulus Clouds. Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 65:407-425, February 2008. [ bib | DOI | ADS link ]

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