Fully Interactive and Refined Resolution Simulations of the Martian Dust Cycle by the MarsWRF Model

C. Gebhardt* (Corresponding Author), A. Abuelgasim, R. M. Fonseca, J. Martin-Torres, Maria-Paz Zorzano Mier

*Corresponding author for this work

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The MarsWRF model is set up with fully interactive dust at 5° × 5° and 2° × 2 resolution. The latter allows for a better representation of topography and other surface properties. An infinite reservoir of surface dust is assumed for both resolutions. For 5° × 5°, surface dust lifting by wind stress takes place over broad areas, occurring in about 20% of the model's grid cells. For 2° × 2°, it is more spatially restricted, occurring in less than 5% of the grid cells, and somewhat reminiscent of the corridors Acidalia‐Chryse, Utopia‐Isidis, and Arcadia‐West of Tharsis. The onset times of major dust storms—large regional storms or global dust storm events (GDEs)—do not exhibit much interannual variability, typically occurring at around Ls 260°. However, their magnitude does show significant interannual variability—with only small regional storms in some years, large regional storms in others, and some years with GDEs—owing to the interaction between major dust lifting regions at low latitudes. The latter is consistent with observed GDEs having several active dust lifting centers. The agreement between the model's surface dust distribution and observation‐based dust cover index maps is potentially better for 2° × 2°. For the latter, there is also significant surface dust lifting by wind stress in the aphelion season that is largely confined to the Hellas basin. It has a recurring time pattern of 2–7 sols, possibly resulting from the interaction between midlatitude baroclinic systems and local downslope flows.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Planets
Issue number9
Early online date25 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

First of all, our warmest thanks go to the PlanetWRF development team for providing the MarsWRF model free of charge to us and their proactive attitude in general. We thank Andy Heaps, National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, UK, for his helpful advice regarding the data visualization using cf‐Python. We would also like to thank Michael Mischna, Alexandre Kling, and the Associate Editor Claire Newman for their several detailed and insightful comments and suggestions that helped to significantly improve the quality of the paper. M. P. Z. acknowledges the partial support by the Spanish State Research Agency (AEI) project MDM‐2017‐0737 Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC‐INTA), Unidad de Excelencia María de Maeztu. Internally, we would like to express our greatest thanks to the High‐Performance Computing, Division of Information Technology, United Arab Emirates University. Our particular thanks go to Asma AlNeyadi, Anil Thomas, and Nithin Damodaran for their intensive and continuous support in technically demanding questions. Also, we would like to thank the Digitization Unit, UAEU Libraries, for the digitization of auxiliary data on the observational record of the atmospheric T15 temperature and vertical weighting functions of Viking/IRTM. In addition, we thank UAEU Libraries for their assistance in making supporting data of this article available online. In particular, we are grateful to Digitization Technician Shireen M. Wolied, Fadl M. Musa/Digital Library Service, and Student Muhammad Abdul Rahim Sami Ullah.
Funding Information:
United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). Grant Number: 21R033‐NSS Center 7‐2017 Spanish State Research Agency (AEI). Grant Number: MDM‐2017‐0737


  • Mars atmosphere
  • Mars climate modelling
  • dust storms
  • MarsWRF
  • Interactive dust
  • Model resolution
  • model resolution


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