Geophysical Research Letters

Discovery of lake-effect clouds on Titan

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Abstract

[1] Images from instruments on Cassini as well as from telescopes on the ground reveal the presence of sporadic small-scale cloud activity in the cold late-winter north polar region of Saturn's large moon Titan. These clouds lie underneath the previously discovered uniform polar cloud attributed to a quiescent ethane cloud at ∼40 km and appear confined to the same latitudes as those of the largest known hydrocarbon lakes at the north pole of Titan. The physical properties of these clouds suggest that they are due to methane convection and condensation. Such convection could be caused by a process in some ways analogous to terrestrial lake-effect clouds. The lakes on Titan could be a key connection between the surface and the meteorological cycle.

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