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Semi-annual oscillations in Saturn's low-latitude stratospheric temperatures

Semi-annual oscillations in Saturn's low-latitude stratospheric temperatures

Publication date: 09 May 2008

Authors: Orton, G.S. et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 453
Issue: 7192
Page: 196-199
Year: 2008

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

Observations of oscillations of temperature and wind in planetary atmospheres provide a means of generalizing models for atmospheric dynamics in a diverse set of planets in the Solar System and elsewhere. An equatorial oscillation similar to one in the Earth's atmosphere has been discovered in Jupiter. Here we report the existence of similar oscillations in Saturn's atmosphere, from an analysis of over two decades of spatially resolved observations of its 7.8-micron methane and 12.2-micron ethane stratospheric emissions, where we compare zonal-mean stratospheric brightness temperatures at planetographic latitudes of 3.6° and 15.5° in both the northern and the southern hemispheres. These results support the interpretation of vertical and meridional variability of temperatures in Saturn's stratosphere as a manifestation of a wave phenomenon similar to that on the Earth and in Jupiter. The period of this oscillation is 14.8 +- 1.2 terrestrial years, roughly half of Saturn's year, suggesting the influence of seasonal forcing, as is the case with the Earth's semi-annual oscillation.

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