Waves, Advection, and Cloud Patterns on Venus

Paul J. Schinder Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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Peter J. Gierasch Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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Stephen S. Leroy Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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Michael D. Smith Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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Abstract

The stable layers adjacent to the nearly neutral layer within the Venus clouds are found to be capable of supporting vertically trapped, horizontally propagating waves with horizontal wavelengths of about 10 km and speeds of a few meters per second relative to the mean wind in the neutral layer. These waves may possibly be excited by turbulence within the neutral layer. We examine the properties of the waves, and the patterns which they might produce within the visible clouds if excited near the subsolar point. The patterns can be in agreement with many features in images. The waves are capable of transferring momentum latitudinally to help maintain the general atmospheric spin, but at present we are not able to evaluate wave amplitudes. We also examine an alternative possibility that the cloud patterns are produced by advection and shearing by the mean zonal and meridional flow of blobs formed near the equator. We conclude that advection and shearing by the mean flow is the most likely explanation for the general pattern of small scale striations.

Abstract

The stable layers adjacent to the nearly neutral layer within the Venus clouds are found to be capable of supporting vertically trapped, horizontally propagating waves with horizontal wavelengths of about 10 km and speeds of a few meters per second relative to the mean wind in the neutral layer. These waves may possibly be excited by turbulence within the neutral layer. We examine the properties of the waves, and the patterns which they might produce within the visible clouds if excited near the subsolar point. The patterns can be in agreement with many features in images. The waves are capable of transferring momentum latitudinally to help maintain the general atmospheric spin, but at present we are not able to evaluate wave amplitudes. We also examine an alternative possibility that the cloud patterns are produced by advection and shearing by the mean zonal and meridional flow of blobs formed near the equator. We conclude that advection and shearing by the mean flow is the most likely explanation for the general pattern of small scale striations.

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