Small-scale composition and haze layering in Titan's polar vortex

N.A. Teanby*, R. de Kok, P.G.J. Irwin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Fine scale layering of haze and composition in Titan's stratosphere and mesosphere was investigated using visible/UV images from Cassini's Imaging Science Sub-system (ISS) and IR spectra from Cassini's Composite Infra-Red Spectrometer (CIRS). Both ISS and CIRS independently show fine layered structures in haze and composition, respectively, in the 150-450 km altitude range with a preferred vertical wavelength of around 50 km. Layers are most pronounced around the north polar winter vortex, although some weaker layers do exist at more southerly latitudes. The amplitude of composition layers in each trace gas profile is proportional to the relative enrichment of that species in the winter polar vortex compared to equatorial latitudes. As enrichment is caused by polar subsidence, this suggests a dynamical origin. We propose that the polar layers are caused by cross-latitude advection across the vortex boundary. This is analogous to processes that lead to ozone laminae formation around Earth's polar vortices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-657
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheres
  • Composition
  • Dynamics
  • Titan


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