General circulation model simulations of the Mars Pathfinder atmospheric structure investigation/meteorology data


  • Robert M. Haberle,

  • Manoj M. Joshi,

  • James R. Murphy,

  • Jeffrey R. Barnes,

  • John T. Schofield,

  • Greg Wilson,

  • Miguel Lopez-Valverde,

  • Jeffery L. Hollingsworth,

  • Alison F. C. Bridger,

  • James Schaeffer


The NASA Ames Mars General Circulation Model is used to interpret selected results from the Mars Pathfinder atmospheric structure instrument/meteorology (ASI/MET) experiment. The present version of the model has an improved soil thermal model, a new boundary layer scheme, and a correction for non-local thermodynamic equilibrium effects at solar wavelengths. We find good agreement with the ASI/MET entry data if the dust observed at the Pathfinder site is assumed to be distributed throughout the lowest five to six scale heights. This implies that the dust is globally distributed as well. In the lower atmosphere the inversion between 10 and 16 km in Pathfinder's entry profile is likely due to thermal emission from a water ice cloud in that region. In the upper atmosphere (above 50 km), dynamical processes, tides in particular, appear to have a cooling effect and may play an important role in driving temperatures toward the CO2 condensation temperature near 80 km. Near-surface air temperatures and wind directions are well simulated by the model by assuming a low surface albedo (0.16) and moderately high soil thermal inertia (336 SI). However, modeled tidal surface pressure amplitudes are about a factor of 2 smaller than observed. This may indicate that the model is not properly simulating interference effects between eastward and westward modes.