Hydrology of Worlds with Surfaces


Alejandro Soto


November 24, 2023

Though the existence and nature of an atmospheric hydrology varies greatly in our solar system, I am trying to understand how the various types of rainfall and groundwater are related between the different terrestrial planets. My work has focused on Mars and Titan.

Evaporation, Precipitation, and Convection on Titan

My newest project moves my work from the global scale to the mesoscale. Using a mesoscale version of WRF modified for Titan (which I call mtWRF, i.e. ‘mesoscale Titan WRF’), I am investigating the physics that control evaporation, precipitation, and convection that occur over the lakes of Titan. Applications of this work include: understanding lake effect cloud formation, investigating possibility wave regimes of the lakes, and connecting lake mesoscale dynamics to the global-scale hydrology.

Precipitation and aridity on ancient Mars.

Even if we assume that ancient Mars had a much thicker atmosphere and therefore a much warmer climate, the Martian climate would still have been much drier than is often assumed. Simulating a large ocean in the northern hemisphere basin still only generates a planet with a wet northern hemisphere and an extremely dry deep southern hemisphere. My work shows how the large scale circulation in conjunction with the topographically controlled distribution of water conspire to keep even a warm Mars pretty dry.