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Icarus 190 (2007) 110126 www.elsevier.com/locate/icarus

Summary: Icarus 190 (2007) 110126
The effects of vigorous mixing in a convective model of zonal flow
on the ice giants
Jonathan Aurnou a,
, Moritz Heimpel b
, Johannes Wicht c
a Earth and Space Sciences, UCLA, 5690 Geology Bldg., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1567, USA
b Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2J1, Canada
c Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
Received 23 March 2006; revised 22 January 2007
Available online 18 April 2007
Previous studies have used models of three-dimensional (3D) Boussinesq convection in a rotating spherical shell to explain the zonal flows on
the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn. In this paper we demonstrate that this approach can also generate flow patterns similar to those observed on
the ice giants, Uranus and Neptune. The equatorial jets of Uranus and Neptune are often assumed to result from baroclinic cloud layer processes
and have been simulated with shallow layer models. Here we show that vigorous, 3D convection in a spherical shell can produce the retrograde
(westward) equatorial flows that occur on the ice giants as well as the prograde (eastward) equatorial flows of the gas giants. In our models, the
direction of the equatorial jet depends on the ratio of buoyancy to Coriolis forces in the system. In cases where Coriolis forces dominate buoyancy,
cylindrical Reynolds stresses drive prograde equatorial jets. However, as buoyancy forces approach and exceed Coriolis forces, the cylindrical


Source: Aurnou, Jonathan - Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles


Collections: Geosciences