Dunes in the Martian north polar erg show two dominant orientations. When seen at frost cap minimum, dunes north of 80??N record east winds, dunes south of 80??N record west winds. Many of the transverse dunes are considered to be reversing dunes. Dunes in two fields may have reversed at least once during the lifetime of the Viking Orbiters. Poor agreement exists among published predictive models of north polar winds and the interpretations derived from the major published map of the north polar dunes. We propose that the average polar winds are: (1) strong, off-pole northwest winds in fall; (2) moderate west winds in winter; (3) latitude-dependent weak to strong off-pole northeast winds in spring; and (4) weak west winds in summer. Viking images of near-polar clouds confirm much of the hypothesis. Images discussed in other studies can be given alternative interpretations that support this hypothesis also. Over millenia, the combination of reversing west and east winds could produce the binodal distributions of dune orientations observed at the north pole. ?? 1983.
Additional publication details
Speculation on martian north polar wind circulation and the resultant orientations of polar sand dunes