Comparative planetary atmospheres

With increasing interest in extra-solar planets and potential observations of their atmospheres and spectra in the near future, we are beginning work on more general comparative planetology, extending our modelling of the planets in the Solar System to more general planetary atmospheres (Yixiong Wang).

The fundamental mechanisms through which factors like planetary rotation rate, surface friction, orbital geometry, etc. shape the atmospheric circulation patterns we observe on Earth and on other planets is still one of the major outstanding issues awaiting systematic and quantitative studies in atmospheric sciences. We are exploring the zoo of potential circulation patterns by running controlled experiments using the Portable University Model of the Atmosphere (PUMA) GCM.

Building a comprehensive understanding of how these circulation patterns depend on these parameters is important for an understanding of the potential tipping points between different types of atmospheric circulation and the sensitivity of atmospheres to these parameters, and for the potential habitability of exotic extra-solar planets.

PUMA simulation with 8x Earth's rotation speed