Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar
Jupiter's atmosphere is one of the most turbulent places in the solar system. Whereas observations of lightning and thunderstorms point to moist convection as a small-scale energy source for Jupiter's large-scale vortices and zonal jets, this has never been demonstrated due to the coarse resolution of pre-Juno measurements. The Juno spacecraft discovered that Jovian high latitudes host a cluster of large cyclones with diameter of around 5,000 km, each associated with intermediate (roughly between 500 and 1,600 km) and smaller-scale vortices and filaments of around 100 km. Here, we analyse infrared images from Juno with a high resolution of 10 km. We unveil a dynamical regime associated with a significant energy source of convective origin that peaks at 100 km scales and in which energy gets subsequently transferred upscale to the large circumpolar and polar cyclones. Although this energy route has never been observed on another planet, it is surprisingly consistent with ideal- ized studies of rapidly rotating Rayleigh–Bénard convection, lending theoretical support to our analyses. This energy route is expected to enhance the heat transfer from Jupiter's hot interior to its troposphere and may also be relevant to the Earth's atmosphere, helping us better understand the dynamics of our own planet.