Bimodal distribution of sulfuric acid aerosols in the upper haze of Venus

AMS Citation:
Gao, P., X. Zhang, D. Crisp, C. D. Bardeen, and Y. Yung, 2014: Bimodal distribution of sulfuric acid aerosols in the upper haze of Venus. Icarus, 231, 83-98, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.10.013.
Resource Type:article
Title:Bimodal distribution of sulfuric acid aerosols in the upper haze of Venus
Abstract: Observations by the SPICAV/SOIR instruments aboard Venus Express have revealed that the upper haze (UH) of Venus, between 70 and 90 km, is variable on the order of days and that it is populated by two particle modes. We use a one-dimensional microphysics and vertical transport model based on the Community Aerosol and Radiation Model for Atmospheres to evaluate whether interaction of upwelled cloud particles and sulfuric acid particles nucleated in situ on meteoric dust are able to generate the two observed modes, and whether their observed variability are due in part to the action of vertical transient winds at the cloud tops. Nucleation of photochemically produced sulfuric acid onto polysulfur condensation nuclei generates mode 1 cloud droplets, which then diffuse upwards into the UH. Droplets generated in the UH from nucleation of sulfuric acid onto meteoric dust coagulate with the upwelled cloud particles and therefore cannot reproduce the observed bimodal size distribution. By comparison, the mass transport enabled by transient winds at the cloud tops, possibly caused by sustained subsolar cloud top convection, are able to generate a bimodal size distribution in a time scale consistent with Venus Express observations. Below the altitude where the cloud particles are generated, sedimentation and vigorous convection causes the formation of large mode 2 and mode 3 particles in the middle and lower clouds. Evaporation of the particles below the clouds causes a local sulfuric acid vapor maximum that results in upwelling of sulfuric acid back into the clouds. In the case where the polysulfur condensation nuclei are small and their production rate is high, coagulation of small droplets onto larger droplets in the middle cloud may set up an oscillation in the size modes of the particles such that precipitation of sulfuric acid “rain” may be possible immediately below the clouds once every few Earth months. Reduction of the polysulfur condensation nuclei production rate destroys this oscillation and reduces the mode 1 particle abundance in the middle cloud by two orders of magnitude. However, it better reproduces the sulfur-to-sulfuric-acid mass ratio in the cloud and haze droplets as constrained by fits to UV reflectivity data. In general we find satisfactory agreement between our nominal and transient wind results and observations from Pioneer Venus, Venus Express, and Magellan, though improvements could be made by incorporating sulfur microphysics.
Subject(s):Atmospheres, composition, Atmospheres, structure, Atmospheres, dynamics, Venus, Venus, atmosphere
Peer Review:Refereed
Copyright Information:Copyright 2014 Elsevier
OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d72n5364
Publisher's Version: 10.1016/j.icarus.2013.10.013
  • Peter Gao
  • Xi Zhang
  • David Crisp
  • Charles Bardeen - NCAR/UCAR
  • Yuk Yung
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