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Reproducing Stratospheric Super Rotation in Titan’s Atmosphere with the TitanWRF GCM

Presentation #625.03 in the session Planetary Atmospheres - Terrestrial Planets and Mini-Neptunes.

Published onApr 03, 2024
Reproducing Stratospheric Super Rotation in Titan’s Atmosphere with the TitanWRF GCM

TitanWRF is a 3D global model that can take into account how surface features impact atmospheric dynamics. Cassini-Huygens, along with follow-up observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), measured the presence of equatorial superrotation and a strong stratospheric jet. Both are reproduced very well by TitanWRF when the model is run with a flat surface, except for the jet peaking at a lower altitude than observed. However, the strength of the superrotation is greatly reduced when recent surface topography maps are included in the model. Gravity waves suppress important stratospheric waves in the model, which transport angular momentum equatorward and subsequently build stratospheric equatorial superrotation. Historically, it has been difficult to generate wind speeds that match observations, but for the first time, we are able to generate superrotational winds that are within 20 m/s of observed jet wind speeds. How the model incorporates the topography is important for how the atmosphere “spins up,” as shown in this study. The results have larger implications for similar models of terrestrial planet atmospheres, in particular those that seek to include realistic effects of topography and liquid cycles (such as water cycles or methane cycles).

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