The Mars Global Digital Dune Database (MGD3) is complete and now extends from 90°N to 90°S latitude. The recently released south pole (SP) portion (MC-30) of MGD3 adds ∼60,000 km2 of medium to large-size dark dune fields and ∼15,000 km2 of sand deposits and smaller dune fields to the previously released equatorial (EQ, ∼70,000 km2), and north pole (NP, ∼845,000 km2) portions of the database, bringing the global total to ∼975,000 km2. Nearly all NP dunes are part of large sand seas, while the majority of EQ and SP dune fields are individual dune fields located in craters. Despite the differences between Mars and Earth, their dune and dune field morphologies are strikingly similar. Bullseye dune fields, named for their concentric ring pattern, are the exception, possibly owing their distinctive appearance to winds that are unique to the crater environment. Ground-based wind directions are derived from slipface (SF) orientation and dune centroid azimuth (DCA), a measure of the relative location of a dune field inside a crater. SF and DCA often preserve evidence of different wind directions, suggesting the importance of local, topographically influenced winds. In general however, ground-based wind directions are broadly consistent with expected global patterns, such as polar easterlies. Intriguingly, between 40°S and 80°S latitude both SF and DCA preserve their strongest, though different, dominant wind direction, with transport toward the west and east for SF-derived winds and toward the north and west for DCA-derived winds.
Additional publication details
Mars Global Digital Dune Database (MGD3): Global dune distribution and wind pattern observations