Composition and temperatures in planetary atmospheres (CONTEMPLA)
In this project we propose to investigate several fundamental aspects of the Earth's atmosphere, as well as those of Venus and Titan, and to start a new research line on exoplanet atmospheres.
With regards to the Earth's atmosphere, firstly, we will build up climatologies from MIPAS measurements of the temperature and key atmospheric species spanning from the troposphere up to the thermosphere and over 12 years. These datasets will also be merged with the measurements of other 7 satellite instruments. These are crucial data for understanding the global atmosphere, its evolution, and the climate. The fulfillment of this objective requires the inversion of H2O and CO2 in the middle atmosphere and the re- processing of the latest version of MIPAS L1b spectra.
Secondly, we plan to study the effects of Energetic Particle Precipitations (EPP) on the atmospheric composition, temperature structure and climate. Specifically we aim to answer the question of whether EPPs should be included in climate models, as those taking part in the “Climate Model Inter-comparison” Project for assessing the IPCC. This work will be carried out within the SOLARIS-HEPPA working group, that we lead, and in the framework of the VarSITI/ROSMIC program.
A third aspect is to study the structure and climate of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere. The study of this unexplored region can nowadays been tackled in deep thanks to the MIPAS, SABER and ACE global and long-terms measurements and the availability of 3D general circulation models (GCM) spanning from the surface to the atmospheric edge. Specifically we will address the coupling/interaction of the middle/upper atmosphere with the troposphere below and the Geo-space above; its variability in timescales from hours to solar cycles; and the discern of the impacts of natural and anthropogenic forcings upon it. In particular, we plan to study how the increase of greenhouse gases (CO2, H2O, CH4) in the troposphere propagates into the middle/upper atmosphere and what impacts it has on its thermal structure and composition.
We expect also to make headway towards understanding the upper atmospheres of other terrestrial-like planets as Venus and Titan. About Venus, we will address the temperature and composition of its upper atmosphere by the analysis VIRTIS/Vex measurements. Emphasis will be given to the polar regions. We will also participate in the extension to the thermosphere of the Venus GCM currently being developed at LMD. About Titan, we will address the seasonal variations of the composition of its upper atmosphere using the measurements taken by Cassini/VIMS in the last 10 years. A further objective is to study the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). We have recently found that they are the precursors of the haze. We plan to improve their retrievals; study their latitudinal, seasonal and temporal variability; and nitrogen content. In addition we also plan to retrieve CO mesospheric profiles from VIMS spectra.
Furthermore, we propose to initiate our study of exoplanet atmospheres. First steps will be to adapt our tools to these atmospheres and start the analysis of space and ground-based observations taken in the IR. Our aim is to establish a solid grounding in Spain enabling an active participation in the near future in the rapidly growing field of exoplanet atmospheres and complement and promote the scientific exploitation of Spanish instruments developments and ground-based observations.