1D-coupled photochemical model of neutrals, cations and anions in the atmosphere of Titan

Abstract : Many models with different characteristics have been published so far to study the chemical processes at work in Titan's atmosphere. Some models focus on neutral species in the stratosphere or ionic species in the ionosphere, but few of them couple all the species throughout the whole atmosphere. Very few of these emphasize the importance of uncertainties in the chemical scheme and study their propagation in the model. We have developed a new 1D-photochemical model of Titan's atmosphere coupling neutral species with positive and negative ions from the lower atmosphere up to the ionosphere and have compared our results with observations to have a comprehensive view of the chemical processes driving the composition of the stratosphere and ionosphere of Titan. We have updated the neutral, positive ion and negative ion chemistry and have improved the description of N2 photodissociation by introducing high resolution N2 absorption cross sections. We performed for the first time an uncertainty propagation study in a fully coupled ion-neutral model. We determine how uncertainties on rate constants on both neutral and ionic reactions influence the model results and pinpoint the key reactions responsible for this behavior. We find very good agreement between our model results and observations in both the stratosphere and in the ionosphere for most neutral compounds. Our results are also in good agreement with an average INMS mass spectrum and specific flybys in the dayside suggesting that our chemical model (for both neutral and ions) provides a good approximation of Titan's atmospheric chemistry as a whole. Our uncertainty propagation study highlights the difficulty to interpret the INMS mass spectra for masses 14, 31, 41 and we identified the key reactions responsible for these ambiguities. Despite an overall improvement in the chemical model, disagreement for some specific compounds (HC3N, C2H5CN, C2H4) highlights the role that certain physical processes could play (meridional dynamics or sticking on aerosols). We find that some critical key reactions are important for many compounds including both neutrals and ions and should be studied in priority to lower the remaining model uncertainties. Extensive studies for some specific processes (including photolyses) are required.
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Contributor : Marie-Paule Pomies <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 8:39:54 AM
Last modification on : Friday, April 5, 2019 - 8:24:00 PM




M. Dobrijevic, J.C. Loison, K.M. Hickson, G. Gronoff. 1D-coupled photochemical model of neutrals, cations and anions in the atmosphere of Titan. Icarus, Elsevier, 2016, 268, pp.313-339. ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2015.12.045⟩. ⟨hal-01278260⟩



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