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Modeling Cloud Microphysics in Ice Giant Atmospheres

Presentation #415.05 in the session Giant Planet Atmospheres (iPosters).

Published onOct 20, 2022
Modeling Cloud Microphysics in Ice Giant Atmospheres

The atmospheric composition of the ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, encodes key details of their formation and evolution, and also informs our understanding of exoplanetary systems. An important component of ice giant atmospheres are the clouds and hazes that impact atmospheric radiative transfer, dynamics, and chemistry, and are often used to track wind speeds and direction. Condensation of methane and hydrogen sulfide are thought to form the observed cloud layers in the troposphere, while hazes likely composed of higher order hydrocarbons are seen in the stratosphere. The formation of these aerosol layers is driven by aerosol microphysics, including nucleation, condensation, coagulation, and evaporation, but to date few studies have investigated these processes in the context of the ice giants and how these processes impact the interactions between the aerosol layers. In this work, we use the 1D Community Aerosol and Radiation Model for Atmospheres (CARMA) to simulate the aerosol distributions, processes, and interactions in the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune. CARMA computes the size and vertical distribution of aerosol particles given material properties such as saturation vapor pressure and surface energy and allows for the nucleation of one material on another. Here we will present our initial results showing how CARMA treats different ice giant condensates after we input them into the base model. For our future work we plan to simulate the stratospheric hazes and tropospheric clouds separately, then assess how they interact with each other, such as whether the former can provide nucleation sites for the latter. We will also evaluate the role of meteoritic material in nucleating aerosol layers.

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