Properties of methane clouds on Titan: Results from microphysical modeling

Authors

  • Erika L. Barth,

    1. Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
    2. Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
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  • Owen B. Toon

    1. Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
    2. Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
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Abstract

[1] Observations indicate methane in Titan's atmosphere may be both highly supersaturated and condensed in clouds. In this paper, we present simulations of methane clouds which show that supersaturation and condensation can be compatible given certain conditions. Cloud formation is limited by lack of suitable nuclei as it is for terrestrial cirrus. The simulations suggest much of the troposphere contains optically thin clouds composed of methane which have formed on ethane coated cores. Optically thick methane clouds form in regions where atmospheric dynamics pushes the supersaturation beyond a threshold value. Horizontal quasi-barotropic motions are more likely to drive the supersaturation creating these clouds than are vertical motions.

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