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Water Ice Nucleation in the Giant Planet Atmospheres

Presentation #505.03 in the session Origin and Evolution of Giant Planet Systems I (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Water Ice Nucleation in the Giant Planet Atmospheres

Water vapor is present in each of the giant planet atmospheres. Due to their low temperature regimes, water vapor becomes highly supersaturated in each stratosphere, to the extent that it may become favorable for pure water ice particles to form via homogeneous nucleation. These water ice particles formed high in the stratospheres of each planet could then provide seed nuclei for the heterogeneous nucleation of hydrocarbons deeper in the stratosphere and troposphere of each planet. Using PlanetCARMA, we model the formation and growth of water ice particles in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. In each atmosphere, particles form but are relatively sparse, with peak number densities between 10-11 and 10-7 cm-3. As the temperatures decrease deeper in each stratosphere, the condensation growth rates slow, keeping the particles from growing more than ~1 µm in radius. The mass of water in the ice particles remains small compared to the mass of water vapor in the atmosphere.

This work is supported by the NASA NFDAP Program, 80NSSC22K1039.

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