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Depth of a strong jovian jet from a planetary-scale disturbance driven by storms

Depth of a strong jovian jet from a planetary-scale disturbance driven by storms

Publication date: 24 January 2008

Authors: Sánchez-Lavega, A. et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 451
Issue: 7177
Page: 437-440
Year: 2008

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

The atmospheres of the gas giant planets (Jupiter and Saturn) contain jets that dominate the circulation at visible levels. The power source for these jets (solar radiation, internal heat, or both) and their vertical structure below the upper cloud are major open questions in the atmospheric circulation and meteorology of giant planets. Several observations and in situ measurements found intense winds at a depth of 24 bar, and have been interpreted as supporting an internal heat source. This issue remains controversial, in part because of effects from the local meteorology. Here we report observations and modelling of two plumes in Jupiter's atmosphere that erupted at the same latitude as the strongest jet (23° N). The plumes reached a height of 30 km above the surrounding clouds, moved faster than any other feature (169 m s-1), and left in their wake a turbulent planetary-scale disturbance containing red aerosols. On the basis of dynamical modelling, we conclude that the data are consistent only with a wind that extends well below the level where solar radiation is deposited.

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