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AIAA event with Dr. Armin Kleinboehl | New Insights into Weather & Climate on Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

AIAA event with Dr. Armin Kleinboehl | New Insights into Weather & Climate on Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Feb 3, 2014

The (AIAA-SGV) American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics San Gabriel Valley section held an evening dinner event at Beckham Grill Restaurant in Pasadena, Ca with guest speaker Dr. Armin Kleinboehl, Research Scientist and a Remote Sensing Specialist at the (JPL) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. He holds a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Physics from the University of Bremen, Germany, and has more than 10 years of experience in remote sensing of the atmospheres of Earth and Mars. He participated in numerous airborne and balloon-borne field campaigns to study the stratospheric ozone layer and to validate satellite measurements. Currently, Dr. Kleinboehl is a Co-Investigator and the lead developer of the operational retrieval algorithm for the Mars Climate Sounder investigation on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which he uses to conduct research on the martian weather and climate.


Armin works with the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS), one of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s six science instruments, that is performing a detailed, systematic study of Mars’ weather and climate. Mars Climate Sounder is the first science investigation at Mars that is capable of performing a “4-dimensional” study (three spatial dimensions and time) of the key properties of Mars’ lower and middle atmosphere. Since Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began its science operations in November 2006, Mars Climate Sounder has been acquiring vertical profiles of the temperature, pressure, dust, and clouds of the lower 80 kilometers (50 miles) of Mars’ atmosphere. 

Observations made by the MCS have revealed new information about atmospheric tides on the Red Planet. Atmospheric tides are the regular, repeating patterns of changes in pressure, temperature and wind in a planet’s atmosphere that occur over the course of a solar day. In contrast to ocean tides, they are driven by variations in heating between day and night. Earth also has atmospheric tides, but their effect is significant mostly in the upper atmosphere. On Mars, however—which has about one percent as much atmosphere as Earth—atmospheric tides are the driving force of short-term temperature and wind changes throughout the planet’s entire atmosphere.

It was also very interesting to learn that the Martian atmosphere has water-ice clouds for most of the year. Clouds in the equatorial region between about 6 to 19 miles (10 to 30 km) above the surface of Mars absorb infrared light emitted from the surface during daytime. These are relatively transparent clouds, like thin cirrus clouds on Earth. Still, the absorption by these clouds is enough to heat the middle atmosphere each day. The Mars Color Imager (MARCI) provides a global map of the red planet and its weather patterns every day. To view Mars’ weekly weather report go to weblink:

The atmosphere of Mars is a dynamic system. Despite being about 100 times thinner than Earth’s atmosphere, many processes are remarkably similar. At the same time, many features in the atmosphere of Mars are remarkably different from Earth’s atmosphere. Dust storms can grow and become planet-encircling, enshrouding Mars in dust for months. In the winter polar regions, temperatures get cold enough for CO2, the main constituent of the atmosphere, to condense, causing CO2 snowfall. About a third of the martian atmosphere gets trapped this way in polar CO2 ice caps that grow and retract with the seasonal cycle.

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One comment

  1. Here is truth about global winmarg:Global winmarg is one-half of the climatic cycle of winmarg and cooling.The earth’s mean temperature cycles around the freezing point of water.This is a completely natural phenomenon which has been going on since there has been water on this planet. It is driven by the sun.Our planet is currently emerging from a mini ice age’, so isbecoming warmer and may return to the point at which Greenland is again usable as farmland (as it has been in recorded history).As the polar ice caps decrease, the amount of fresh water mixing with oceanic water will slow and perhaps stop the thermohaline cycle (the oceanic heat conveyor’ which, among other things, keeps the U.S. east coast warm).When this cycle slows/stops, the planet will cool again and begin to enter another ice age. Thermohaline cycle:Warm water is less dense than cold water. One of the ocean currents runs North up the east coast of the U.S.When this warm ocean water reaches the arctic ocean, it is cooled which makes it become more dense. The now dense salt water drops to the sea floor and begins its return to thesouthern loop of its cycle.Fresh water from meltoff of the northern ice pack dilutes this sea water which makes it less dense.The diluted, less dense water drops to the sea floor more slowly which slows the entire cycle.If diluted enough, this circulation stops entirely.When the circulation stops, then the planet will begin to cool and enter an ice age which will stop the meltoff.As the salinity in the north Atlantic increases, the water will once again begin to sink to the sea floor and the cycle will restart and our planet will emerge from its ice age and enter another warm period.That is happening now. It will change.It’s been happening for millions of years.The worrisome and brutal predictions of drastic climate effects are based on computer models, NOT CLIMATE HISTORY. As you probably know, computer models are not the most reliable of sources, especially when used to predict’ chaotic systems such as weather.Global winmarg/cooling, AKA climate change’:Humans did not cause it.Humans cannot stop it.

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