Mars Global Digital Dune Database and initial science results



[1] A new Mars Global Digital Dune Database (MGD3) constructed using Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) infrared (IR) images provides a comprehensive and quantitative view of the geographic distribution of moderate- to large-size dune fields (area >1 km2) that will help researchers to understand global climatic and sedimentary processes that have shaped the surface of Mars. MGD3 extends from 65°N to 65°S latitude and includes ∼550 dune fields, covering ∼70,000 km2, with an estimated total volume of ∼3,600 km3. This area, when combined with polar dune estimates, suggests moderate- to large-size dune field coverage on Mars may total ∼800,000 km2, ∼6 times less than the total areal estimate of ∼5,000,000 km2 for terrestrial dunes. Where availability and quality of THEMIS visible (VIS) or Mars Orbiter Camera narrow-angle (MOC NA) images allow, we classify dunes and include dune slipface measurements, which are derived from gross dune morphology and represent the prevailing wind direction at the last time of significant dune modification. For dunes located within craters, the azimuth from crater centroid to dune field centroid (referred to as dune centroid azimuth) is calculated and can provide an accurate method for tracking dune migration within smooth-floored craters. These indicators of wind direction are compared to output from a general circulation model (GCM). Dune centroid azimuth values generally correlate to regional wind patterns. Slipface orientations are less well correlated, suggesting that local topographic effects may play a larger role in dune orientation than regional winds.