Correlations between cloud thickness and sub-cloud water abundance on Venus
Publication date: 26 January 2010
Authors: Tsang, Constantine C. C. et al.
Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Past spacecraft observations of Venus have found considerable spatial and temporal variations of water vapour abundance above the clouds. Previous searches for variability below the clouds at 30-45 km altitude found no large scale latitudinal gradients, but lacked the spatial resolution to detect smaller scale variations. Here we interpret results from the VIRTIS imaging spectrometer on Venus Express, remotely sounding at near-infrared "spectral window" wavelengths, as indicating that the water vapour abundance at 30-40 km altitude varies from 22 to 35 ppmv (±4 ppmv). Furthermore, this variability is correlated with cloud opacity, supporting the hypothesis that its genesis is linked to cloud convection. It is also possible to fit the observations without requiring spatial variation of water abundance, but this places a strong constraint on the spectral dependence of the refractive index data assumed for the lower cloud particles, for which there is as yet no supporting evidence.Link to publication