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Simulation of equatorial and high-latitude jets on Jupiter in a deep convection model

Nature volume 438, pages 193196 (10 November 2005) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The bands of Jupiter represent a global system of powerful winds. Broad eastward equatorial jets are flanked by smaller-scale, higher-latitude jets flowing in alternating directions1,2. Jupiter's large thermal emission suggests that the winds are powered from within3,4, but the zonal flow depth is limited by increasing density and electrical conductivity in the molecular hydrogen–helium atmosphere towards the centre of the planet5. Two types of planetary flow models have been explored: shallow-layer models reproduce multiple high-latitude jets, but not the equatorial flow system6,7,8, and deep convection models only reproduce an eastward equatorial jet with two flanking neighbours9,10,11,12,13,14. Here we present a numerical model of three-dimensional rotating convection in a relatively thin spherical shell that generates both types of jets. The simulated flow is turbulent and quasi-two-dimensional and, as observed for the jovian jets, simulated jet widths follow Rhines' scaling theory2,12,13,15. Our findings imply that Jupiter's latitudinal transition in jet width corresponds to a separation between the bottom-bounded flow structures in higher latitudes and the deep equatorial flows.

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Acknowledgements

Funding was provided by NSERC Canada, UCLA, and the DFG Germany priority programme ‘Geomagnetic variations’. Computational resources were provided by the Western Canada Research Grid (West Grid).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2J1, Canada

    • Moritz Heimpel
  2. Department of Earth and Space Sciences, UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095-1567, USA

    • Jonathan Aurnou
  3. Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

    • Johannes Wicht

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Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Moritz Heimpel.

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    Supplementary Notes

    This file contains Supplementary Results, Supplementary Discussion, Supplementary Figures 1–4 and Supplementary Table 1.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04208

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