Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images of Titan's north polar region reveal quasi-circular to complex features which are interpreted to be liquid hydrocarbon lakes. We investigate methane transport in Titan's hydrologic cycle using the global distribution of lake features. As of May 2007, the SAR data set covers ???22% of the surface and indicates multiple lake morphologies which are correlated across the polar region. Lakes are limited to latitudes above 55??N and vary from <10 to more than 100,000 km2. The size and location of lakes provide constraints on parameters associated with subsurface transport. Using porous media properties inferred from Huygens probe observations, timescales for flow into and out of observed lakes are shown to be in the tens of years, similar to seasonal cycles. Derived timescales are compared to the time between collocated SAR observations in order to consider the role of subsurface transport in Titan's hydrologic cycle. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.
Additional publication details
Hydrocarbon lakes on Titan: Distribution and interaction with a porous regolith