Dunes decrease in size at high southern latitudes, likely from ground ice cementation

figure-2[Editor’s note: From a paper by Maria Banks and seven co-authors recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.]

Patterns in Mobility and Modification of Middle‐ and High‐Latitude Southern Hemisphere Dunes on Mars

• The mobility of dunes and ripples decreases with increasing latitude and degradation for southern hemisphere Martian dune fields
• A marked shift toward reduced bedform activity and widespread dune degradation begins poleward of ~60°S latitude
• Results support stabilization of sand sediments, likely by polar processes such as accumulating ground ice

Dune fields and sand sheets, very similar to those we see on Earth, are observed on the surface of Mars. Their presence attests to the importance of wind-driven activity in shaping the Martian surface. Using repeated high-resolution imaging with the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera in orbit around Mars on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, we can now look closely at dunes and ripples (collectively referred to as bedforms) on Mars to find evidence of changes over time. (…)

In this study, we investigated the activity of dunes and ripples in the middle and high latitudes of the southern hemisphere of Mars. We combined our results with those from investigations that looked at how the bedforms are degrading and being modified from nonwind-driven processes, indicative of dune inactivity.

Our results show that dunes and ripples are progressively less active and show increasing evidence of degradation and erosion with proximity to the south pole… [More at link]

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