Publication Details

Fisher, J. A., Richardson, M. I., Newman, C. E., Szwast, M. A., Graf, C., Basu, S., Ewald, S. P., Toigo, A. D. & Wilson, R. (2005). A survey of Martian dust devil activity using Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera images. Journal of Geophysical Research, 110 (3), 1-18.


A survey of dust devils using the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) wide- and narrow-angle (WA and NA) images has been undertaken. The survey comprises two parts: (1) sampling of nine broad regions from September 1997 to July 2001 and (2) a focused seasonal monitoring of variability in the Amazonis region, an active dust devil site, from March 2001 to April 2004. For part 1, dust devils were identified in NA and WA images, and dust devil tracks were identified in NA images. Great spatial variability in dust devil occurrence is highlighted, with Amazonis Planitia being the most active region examined. Other active regions included Cimmerium, Sinai, and Solis. Numerous dust devil tracks, but very few dust devils, were observed in Casius. This may suggest dust devils here occur at local times other than that of the MGS orbit (∼2 pm). Alternatively, variations in surface properties may affect the ability of dust devils to leave visible tracks. The seasonal campaign within Amazonis shows a relatively smooth variation of dust devil activity with season, peaking in mid northern summer and falling to zero in southern spring and summer. This pattern of activity correlates well with the boundary layer maximum depth and hence the vigor of convection. Global maps of boundary layer depth and surface temperature do not predict that Amazonis should be especially active, potentially suggesting a role for mesoscale circulations. Measurement of observed dust devils yields heights of up to 8 km and widths in excess of 0.5 km.



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