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Exploring the role of water in Jupiter’s weather layer: Implication to the evolution and interior of gas giants

Presentation #302.02 in the session A Wet and Cloudy Jupiter.

Published onOct 20, 2022
Exploring the role of water in Jupiter’s weather layer: Implication to the evolution and interior of gas giants

Water is the key to understanding the evolution of Jupiter. Here, we study the role of water, particularly the heat transport mechanism, in Jupiter’s weather layer. The fundamental mechanism of heat transport in a giant planet is thermal convection, in which warm air rises and cold air sinks. Evolution models of giant planets all assumed that convective heat transport efficiently delivers the heat from the interior to the photosphere, where the heat is radiated to space. However, the condensation and mass loading effect of water prohibit thermal convection. Convective heat transport becomes inefficient or even fails in the stably stratified region of the planet, known as the problem of convective inhibition. Here, we perform cloud-resolving simulations of Jupiter’s moist atmosphere. On the one hand, we found that if the deep water abundance of Jupiter is 3 protosolar, the mass loading effect of water completely turns off convection. On the other hand, the phase transition of water is the key to relaying the heat transport across the stable layer. We found that if water abundance is 3 protosolar, the mass loading effect can sustain a persistent superadiabatic layer that leads to a warmer interior than the temperature estimated by the moist adiabat. The stable layer induced by the water condensation also results in the regional heat flux and temperature variations that could be detected in future observations.

Figure 1

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