Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets

Assimilation of Mars Global Surveyor atmospheric temperature data into a general circulation model


  • Kate Q. Zhang,

  • Andrew P. Ingersoll,

  • David M. Kass,

  • John C. Pearl,

  • Michael D. Smith,

  • Barney J. Conrath,

  • Robert M. Haberle


We examined the observed temperature data from Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) between heliocentric longitude Ls = 141° and 146° (∼10 Martian days in northern summer) during the mapping phase, then compared them with the simulated results using the NASA/Ames Mars general circulation model. Both show a strong polar vortex at the winter pole, higher equatorial temperatures near the ground and larger tropospheric lapse rates during daytime than at night. However, the simulation is colder than the observation at the bottom and top of the atmosphere and warmer in the middle. The highest wave activities are found in the polar front in both the simulations and the observations, but it is at a much higher altitude in the former. Experiments show that larger dust opacity improves the temperature field in the lower atmospheric levels. Using a steady state Kalman filter, we attempted to obtain a model state that is consistent with the observations. The assimilation did achieve better agreement with the observations overall, especially over the north pole. However, it is hard to make any further improvement. Dust opacity is the key factor in determining the temperature field; correcting temperature alone improves the spatial and temporal variations, it degrades the mean state in the south pole. Assimilation cannot improve the simulation further, unless more realistic dust opacity and its vertical profile are considered.