Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 4 of 4 items for

  • Author or Editor: Junjun Liu x
  • All content x
Clear All Modify Search
Junjun Liu and Tapio Schneider

Abstract

In the off-equatorial region of Jupiter’s and Saturn’s atmospheres, baroclinic eddies transport angular momentum out of retrograde and into prograde jets. In a statistically steady state, this angular momentum transfer by eddies must be balanced by dissipation, likely produced by magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) drag in the planetary interior. This paper examines systematically how an idealized representation of this drag in a general circulation model (GCM) of the upper atmosphere of giant planets modifies jet characteristics, the angular momentum budget, and the energy budget.

In the GCM, Rayleigh drag at an artificial lower boundary (with mean pressure of 3 bar) is used as a simple representation of the MHD drag that the flow on giant planets experiences at depth. As the drag coefficient decreases, the eddy length scale and eddy kinetic energy increase, as they do in studies of two-dimensional turbulence. Off-equatorial jets become wider and stronger, with increased interjet spacing. Coherent vortices also become more prevalent. Generally, the jet width scales with the Rhines scale, which is of similar magnitude as the Rossby radius in the simulations. The jet strength increases primarily through strengthening of the barotropic component, which increases as the drag coefficient decreases because the overall kinetic energy dissipation remains roughly constant. The overall kinetic energy dissipation remains roughly constant presumably because it is controlled by baroclinic conversion of potential to kinetic energy in the upper troposphere, which is mainly determined by the differential solar radiation and is only weakly dependent on bottom drag and barotropic flow variations.

For Jupiter and Saturn, these results suggest that the wider and stronger jets on Saturn may arise because the MHD drag on Saturn is weaker than on Jupiter, while the thermodynamic efficiencies of the atmospheres are not sensitive to the drag parameters.

Full access
Junjun Liu and Tapio Schneider

Abstract

In rapidly rotating planetary atmospheres that are heated from below, equatorial superrotation can occur through convective generation of equatorial Rossby waves. If the heating from below is sufficiently strong that convection penetrates into the upper troposphere, then the convection generates equatorial Rossby waves, which can induce the equatorward angular momentum transport necessary for superrotation. This paper investigates the conditions under which the convective generation of equatorial Rossby waves and their angular momentum transport lead to superrotation. It also addresses how the strength and width of superrotating equatorial jets are controlled.

In simulations with an idealized general circulation model (GCM), the relative roles of baroclinicity, heating from below, and bottom drag are explored systematically. Equatorial superrotation generally occurs when the heating from below is sufficiently strong. However, the threshold heating at which the transition to superrotation occurs increases as the baroclinicity or the bottom drag increases. The greater the baroclinicity is, the stronger the angular momentum transport out of low latitudes by baroclinic eddies of extratropical origin. This competes with the angular momentum transport toward the equator by convectively generated Rossby waves and thus can inhibit a transition to superrotation. Equatorial bottom drag damps both the mean zonal flow and convectively generated Rossby waves, weakening the equatorward angular momentum transport as the drag increases; this can also inhibit a transition to superrotation. The strength of superrotating equatorial jets scales approximately with the square of their width. When they are sufficiently strong, their width, in turn, scales with the equatorial Rossby radius and thus depends on the thermal stratification of the equatorial atmosphere.

The results have broad implications for planetary atmospheres, particularly for how superrotation can be generated in giant planet atmospheres and in terrestrial atmospheres in warm climates.

Full access
Junjun Liu and Tapio Schneider

Abstract

The giant planet atmospheres exhibit alternating prograde (eastward) and retrograde (westward) jets of different speeds and widths, with an equatorial jet that is prograde on Jupiter and Saturn and retrograde on Uranus and Neptune. The jets are variously thought to be driven by differential radiative heating of the upper atmosphere or by intrinsic heat fluxes emanating from the deep interior. However, existing models cannot account for the different flow configurations on the giant planets in an energetically consistent manner. Here a three-dimensional general circulation model is used to show that the different flow configurations can be reproduced by mechanisms universal across the giant planets if differences in their radiative heating and intrinsic heat fluxes are taken into account. Whether the equatorial jet is prograde or retrograde depends on whether the deep intrinsic heat fluxes are strong enough that convection penetrates into the upper troposphere and generates strong equatorial Rossby waves there. Prograde equatorial jets result if convective Rossby wave generation is strong and low-latitude angular momentum flux divergence owing to baroclinic eddies generated off the equator is sufficiently weak (Jupiter and Saturn). Retrograde equatorial jets result if either convective Rossby wave generation is weak or absent (Uranus) or low-latitude angular momentum flux divergence owing to baroclinic eddies is sufficiently strong (Neptune). The different speeds and widths of the off-equatorial jets depend, among other factors, on the differential radiative heating of the atmosphere and the altitude of the jets, which are vertically sheared. The simulations have closed energy and angular momentum balances that are consistent with observations of the giant planets. They exhibit temperature structures closely resembling those observed and make predictions about as yet unobserved aspects of flow and temperature structures.

Full access
Tapio Schneider and Junjun Liu

Abstract

The zonal flow in Jupiter’s upper troposphere is organized into alternating retrograde and prograde jets, with a prograde (superrotating) jet at the equator. Existing models posit as the driver of the flow either differential radiative heating of the atmosphere or intrinsic heat fluxes emanating from the deep interior; however, they do not reproduce all large-scale features of Jupiter’s jets and thermal structure. Here it is shown that the difficulties in accounting for Jupiter’s jets and thermal structure resolve if the effects of differential radiative heating and intrinsic heat fluxes are considered together, and if upper-tropospheric dynamics are linked to a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) drag that acts deep in the atmosphere and affects the zonal flow away from but not near the equator. Baroclinic eddies generated by differential radiative heating can account for the off-equatorial jets; meridionally propagating equatorial Rossby waves generated by intrinsic convective heat fluxes can account for the equatorial superrotation. The zonal flow extends deeply into the atmosphere, with its speed changing with depth, away from the equator up to depths at which the MHD drag acts. The theory is supported by simulations with an energetically consistent general circulation model of Jupiter’s outer atmosphere. A simulation that incorporates differential radiative heating and intrinsic heat fluxes reproduces Jupiter’s observed jets and thermal structure and makes testable predictions about as yet unobserved aspects thereof. A control simulation that incorporates only differential radiative heating but not intrinsic heat fluxes produces off-equatorial jets but no equatorial superrotation; another control simulation that incorporates only intrinsic heat fluxes but not differential radiative heating produces equatorial superrotation but no off-equatorial jets. The proposed mechanisms for the formation of jets and equatorial superrotation likely act in the atmospheres of all giant planets.

Full access