The distribution of carbon monoxide in the lower atmosphere of Venus

Daniel V. Cotton, Jeremy Bailey*, D. Crisp, V. S. Meadows

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    We have obtained spatially resolved near-infrared spectroscopy of the Venus nightside on 15 nights over three observing seasons. We use the depth of the CO absorption band at 2.3μm to map the two-dimensional distribution of CO across both hemispheres. Radiative transfer models are used to relate the measured CO band depth to the volume mixing ratio of CO. The results confirm previous investigations in showing a general trend of increased CO abundances at around 60° latitude north and south as compared with the equatorial regions. Observations taken over a few nights generally show very similar CO distributions, but significant changes are apparent over longer periods. In past studies it has been assumed that the CO latitudinal variation occurs near 35km altitude, at which K-band sensitivity to CO is greatest. By modeling the detailed spectrum of the excess CO at high latitudes we show that it occurs at altitudes around 45km, much higher than has previously been assumed, and that there cannot be significant contribution from levels of 36km or lower. We suggest that this is most likely due to downwelling of CO-rich gas from the upper atmosphere at these latitudes, with the CO being removed by around 40km through chemical processes such as the reaction with SO 3.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)570-584
    Number of pages15
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


    • Atmospheres, chemistry
    • Atmospheres, dynamics
    • Radiative transfer
    • Spectroscopy
    • Venus, atmosphere


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