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DIX Planetary Science Seminar

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Arms 155 (Robert P. Sharp Lecture Hall)
Jupiter as an air conditioner: how giant planets' weather tells a story from the outside in
Huazhi Ge, Graduate Student, Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Santa Cruz,

Jupiter is the most massive planet in the solar system. Its weather layer possesses iconic banded circulations and is covered by thick clouds with various colors. Jupiter still undergoes Kelvin-Helmholtz contraction and slowly releases its internal energy into space through emission. Traditional theory suggests that Jupiter's weather layer is part of a fully-convective zone and thermal convection connects Jupiter's interior and radiative zone. Combining the recent observations and nonhydrostatic cloud-resolving simulations, I will show this picture is oversimplified, and Jupiter's weather layer is only partially-convective. Cloud-forming species are heavier than the background hydrogen-helium mixtures in giant planets. The condensation of water, the most abundant cloud-forming species, causes a molecular weight gradient and disconnects the deep atmosphere and upper weather layer. Thus, thermal convection is turned off. Instead, latent heat flux relates the heat flow in the deep atmosphere to the upper weather layer. The condensation of water also leads to a persistent stable layer, which acts as the compressor of an air conditioner, and a superadiabatic temperature structure. I will show the implications for giant planets' evolution, interior structure, and atmospheric dynamics. The result from this work will help us understand the current observations from the ongoing Juno mission and look ahead to the future Uranus mission.

For more information, please contact Ryleigh Davis by email at [email protected].