The north polar layered deposits (NPLD) of Mars represent a global climate record reaching back millions of years, potentially recorded in visible layers and radar reflectors. However, little is known of the specific link between those layers, reflectors, and the global climate. To test the hypothesis that reflectors are caused by thick and indurated layers known as “marker beds,” the reflectivity of three reflectors was measured, mapped, and compared to a reflectivity model. The measured reflectivities match the model and show a strong sensitivity to layer thickness, implying that radar reflectivity may be used as a proxy for short-term accumulation patterns and that regional climate plays a strong role in layer thickness variations. Comparisons to an orbitally forced NPLD accumulation model show a strong correlation with predicted marker bed formation, but dust content is higher than expected, implying a stronger role for dust in Mars polar climate than previously thought.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)