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Modeling the Effect of Water Condensation on Observed Cloud Features Near the 24N Jet on Jupiter

Presentation #103.03 in the session “Giant Planets 2: Simulation and Lab Work”.

Published onOct 26, 2020
Modeling the Effect of Water Condensation on Observed Cloud Features Near the 24N Jet on Jupiter

Planetary atmospheres are crucial to the study of planetary bodies. From the greenhouse gases onVenus, to the methane cycle on Titan, to the giant spheres of atmosphere we call the gas giants, thedefining characteristics of many bodies in our solar system are their atmospheres. In our research,we are interested in investigating the dynamics of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Since physically travelingto Jupiter to collect atmospheric data would be logistically challenging, we instead run three-dimensional numerical models of turbulent areas in the Jovian atmosphere, with the goal ofreproducing the observed features on the planet. One feature that is of interest is Jupiter’s strongestjet, which is located at 24 degrees North latitude. This jet is particularly interesting to study sinceboth convective water plumes and lightning have been observed in the region. We focus onmodeling this jet and the cloud plumes that form to the North and South of the jet, in order tounderstand the underlying dynamics that lead to the formation of such features. In our research, weuse the Explicit Planetary Isentropic Coordinate (EPIC) model to study the effect of cloud formationnear the jet. We use the active cloud microphysics module in EPIC to model ammonia and waterclouds on Jupiter. We can simulate the relationship between the processes that form these cloudsand lead to their subsequent dissipation through precipitation and evaporation. Our goal is toidentify the core dynamical and chemical processes that lead to the formation of the clouds that weobserve. Our simulations demonstrate that the atmosphere north of the jet is warmer compared tothe south, which leads to clouds forming higher in the atmosphere north of the jet compared to thesurrounding area. In addition, our simulations show the plumes near the jet form fromcondensation of water near the 5 bar level for a ~1× solar concentration of water vapor.

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