Letter | Published:

The Movements of Jupiter's Atmosphere


The reference to the belts of Jupiter contained in my article on the geological activity of the tides (NATURE, vol. xxv. p. 213), was perhaps superfluous, for the subject is only collaterally connected with the points there under discussion; but as Mr. Mattieu Williams has commented on what I said, I should like to make a few remarks on his letter. Notwithstanding what he says I am still inclined to hold that the time-honoured explanation of the belts of Jupiter is the true one. In that explanation the terms trade and anti-trade winds are, I conceive, used in a somewhat extended sense as a consequence of thermal causes, and without reference to the existence of a solid nucleus, a current is supposed to set upwards in equatorial regions and then to spread out into higher latitudes; here the fluid has more moment of momentum than is adapted for the latitude in which it finds itself, and accordingly moves relatively to the subjacent matter in the direction of the planet's rotation, and forms an anti-trade wind. Conversely the trade winds arise from fluid moving into lower latitudes, when it has a deficiency of moment of momentum. Such an explanation seems to serve equally to explain the unequal rotation of the surface of the sun in different latitudes, and the Jovian belts.

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