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

C. Gebhardt, A. Abuelgasim, R. M. Fonseca, J. Martín-Torres, M. P. Zorzano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


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
Article numbere2019JE006253
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2020


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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