Global Surface Winds and Aeolian Sediment Pathways on Mars From the Morphology of Barchan Dunes Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractIn the absence of consistent meteorological data on Mars, the morphology of dunes can be employed to study its atmosphere. Specifically, barchan dunes, which form under approximately unimodal winds, are reliable proxies for the dominant wind directions. Here, we characterize nearsurface winds on Mars from the morphology of >700,000 barchans mapped globally on the planet by a convolutional neural network. Barchan migration is predominantly aligned with known southernsummer atmospheric circulation patternsnortherly at midlatitudes and cyclonic near the north polewith the addition of an anticyclonic northpolar component that likely originates from winds emerging from the ice cap. Locally, migration directions deviate from regional trends in areas with high topographic roughness. Notably, obstacles <100km such as impact craters are efficient at deflecting surface winds. Our database, which provides insights into planetaryscale aeolian processes on modernday Mars, can be used to constrain global circulation models to assist with predictions for future missions.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 17.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Rubanenko, L., Gunn, A., Perez-Lopez, S., Fenton, L. K., Ewing, R. C., Soto, A., & Lapotre, M.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Rubanenko, L||Gunn, A||Perez-Lopez, S||Fenton, LK||Ewing, RC||Soto, A||Lapotre, MGA

publication date

  • September 2023