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Near-pure vapor condensation in the Martian atmosphere: CO2 ice crystal growth

Abstract : A new approach is presented to model the condensational growth of carbon dioxide (CO2) ice crystals on Mars. These condensates form in very particular conditions. First, ~95% of the atmosphere is composed of CO2 so that near-pure vapor condensation takes place. Second, the atmosphere is rarefied, having dramatic consequences on the crystal growth. Indeed, the subsequently reduced efficiency of heat transport helps maintain a high temperature difference between the crystal surface and the environment, inhibiting the growth. Besides, the Stefan flow which would have been expected to increase the growth rate of the crystal, because of the near-pure vapor condensation, is negligible. We show that the heritage of the convenient and explicit linearized crystal growth rate formula used for Earth clouds, initially derived for a trace gas, has to be reconsidered in the case of near-pure vapor condensation for high saturation ratios, which appear to be common in the martian mesosphere. Nevertheless, by comparing our approach with a more complex condensation model, valid for all atmospheric conditions and all vapor abundances, we show that a very simple set of equations can still be used to efficiently reproduce the CO2 ice crystal growth rate. Our model, referred to as the CLASSIC model here, provides similar crystal growth rates than the traditionally used linearized growth rate models at low supersaturations, but predicts lower crystal growth rates at high supersaturations. It can thus be used to model the condensational growth of CO2 ice crystals in the mesosphere where high supersaturations are observed.
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Submitted on : Sunday, March 27, 2016 - 1:40:01 PM
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Constantino Listowski, Anni Määttänen, Ilona Riipinen, Franck Montmessin, Franck Lefèvre. Near-pure vapor condensation in the Martian atmosphere: CO2 ice crystal growth. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, 118 (10), pp.2153-2171. ⟨10.1002/jgre.20149⟩. ⟨hal-00861861⟩

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