We use infrared spectra returned by the Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) to retrieve atmospheric and surface temperature, dust and water ice aerosol optical depth, and water vapor column abundance. The data presented here span more than two martian years (Mars Year 24, L s =104°, 1 March 1999 to Mars Year 26, L s =180°, 4 May 2003). We present an overview of the seasonal ( L s ), latitudinal, and longitudinal dependence of atmospheric quantities during this period, as well as an initial assessment of the interannual variability in the current martian climate. We find that the perihelion season ( L s =180°–360°) is relatively warm, dusty, free of water ice clouds, and shows a relatively high degree of interannual variability in dust optical depth and atmospheric temperature. On the other hand, the aphelion season ( L s =0°–180°) is relatively cool, cloudy, free of dust, and shows a low degree of interannual variability. Water vapor abundance shows a moderate amount of interannual variability at all seasons, but the most in the perihelion season. Much of the small amount of interannual variability that is observed in the aphelion season appears to be caused by perihelion-season planet-encircling dust storms. These dust storms increase albedo through deposition of bright dust on the surface causing cooler daytime surface and atmospheric temperatures well after dust optical depth returns to prestorm values.
Icarus – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2004
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