Publications


Ice, Fire, or Fizzle: The Climate Footprint of Earth's Supercontinental Cycles

Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (2020)

R PIERREHUMBERT, A Lenardic, M Jellinek


There is no Plan B for dealing with the climate crisis

BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS Informa UK Limited 75 (2019) 215-221

R Pierrehumbert

© 2019, © 2019 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. To halt global warming, the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by human activities such as fossil fuel burning, cement production, and deforestation needs to be brought all the way to zero. The longer it takes to do so, the hotter the world will get. Lack of progress towards decarbonization has created justifiable panic about the climate crisis. This has led to an intensified interest in technological climate interventions that involve increasing the reflection of sunlight to space by injecting substances into the stratosphere which lead to the formation of highly reflective particles. When first suggested, such albedo modification schemes were introduced as a “Plan B,” in case the world economy fails to decarbonize, and this scenario has dominated much of the public perception of albedo modification as a savior waiting in the wings to protect the world against massive climate change arising from a failure to decarbonize. But because of the mismatch between the millennial persistence time of carbon dioxide and the sub-decadal persistence of stratospheric particles, albedo modification can never safely play more than a very minor role in the portfolio of solutions. There is simply no substitute for decarbonization.


Potential Vorticity of Saturn's Polar Regions: Seasonality and Instabilities

Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets American Geophysical Union (AGU) (2019)

A Antuñano, T del Río-Gaztelurrutia, A Sánchez-Lavega, PL Read, LN Fletcher


Direct imaging of molten protoplanets in nearby young stellar associations

Astronomy and Astrophysics EDP Sciences 621 (2019) A125

I Bonati, T Lichtenberg, DJ Bower, ML Timpe, SP Quanz

© ESO 2019. During their formation and early evolution, rocky planets undergo multiple global melting events due to accretionary collisions with other protoplanets. The detection and characterization of their post-collision afterglows (magma oceans) can yield important clues about the origin and evolution of the solar and extrasolar planet population. Here, we quantitatively assess the observational prospects to detect the radiative signature of forming planets covered by such collision-induced magma oceans in nearby young stellar associations with future direct imaging facilities. We have compared performance estimates for near- and mid-infrared instruments to be installed at ESO's Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), and a potential space-based mission called Large Interferometer for Exoplanets (LIFE). We modelled the frequency and timing of energetic collisions using N-body models of planet formation for different stellar types, and determine the cooling of the resulting magma oceans with an insulating atmosphere. We find that the probability of detecting at least one magma ocean planet depends on the observing duration and the distribution of atmospheric properties among rocky protoplanets. However, the prospects for detection significantly increase for young and close stellar targets, which show the highest frequencies of giant impacts. For intensive reconnaissance with a K band (2.2 μm) ELT filter or a 5.6 μm LIFE filter, the β Pictoris, Columba, TW Hydrae, and Tucana-Horologium associations represent promising candidates for detecting a molten protoplanet. Our results motivate the exploration of magma ocean planets using the ELT and underline the importance of space-based direct imaging facilities to investigate and characterize planet formation and evolution in the solar vicinity. Direct imaging of magma oceans will advance our understanding of the early interior, surface and atmospheric properties of terrestrial worlds.


Atmospheric circulation of tide-locked exoplanets

Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics Annual Reviews 51 (2018) 75-303

R Pierrehumbert, M Hammond

Tide-locked planets are planets in which tidal stresses from the host star have spun down the planet’s rotation to the point where its length of side-real day equals its length of year. In a nearly circular orbit, such planets have a permanent dayside and a permanent nightside, leading to extreme heating contrasts. In this article, the atmospheric circulations forced by this heating contrast are explored, with a focus on terrestrial planets; here, “terrestrial” refers to planets with a condensed solid or liquid surface at which most of the incident stellar radiation is absorbed and does not imply habitability in the Earthlike sense. The census of exoplanets contains many terrestrial planets that are very likely to be tide locked, including extremely hot close-orbit planets around Sunlike stars and habitable zone (and hotter) planets around lower-mass stars. The circulations are discussed in terms of fluid dynamical concepts arising from study of the Earth’s tropics, supplemented by general circulation model simulations. Even in the relatively simple context of dry (noncondensing) dynamics, there are a number of important unresolved issues that require further study.


Zonal-Mean Atmospheric Dynamics of Slowly Rotating Terrestrial Planets

JOURNAL OF THE ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES 76 (2019) 1397-1418

GJ Colyer, GK Vallis


Simulating Jupiter’s weather layer. Part I: Jet spin-up in a dry atmosphere

Icarus Elsevier 326 (2018) 225-252

R Young, P Read, Y Wang

We investigate the dynamics of Jupiter's upper troposphere and lower stratosphere using a General Circulation Model that includes two-stream radiation and optional heating from below. Based on the MITgcm dynamical core, this is a new generation of the Oxford Jupiter model [Zuchowski, L.C. et al., 2009. Plan. Space Sci., 57, 1525--1537, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2009.05.008]. We simulate Jupiter's atmosphere at up to 0.7 degree horizontal resolution with 33 vertical levels down to a pressure of 18 bar, in configurations with and without a 5.7 W/m2 interior heat flux. Simulations ran for 130000-150000 days to allow the deep atmosphere to come into radiative equilibrium. Baroclinic instability generates alternating, eddy-driven, midlatitude jets in both cases. With interior heating the zonal jets migrate towards the equator and become barotropically unstable. This generates Rossby waves that radiate away from the equator, depositing westerly momentum there via eddy angular momentum flux convergence and spinning up a super-rotating 20 m/s equatorial jet throughout the troposphere. There are 30-35 zonal jets with latitudinal separation comparable with the real planet, and there is strong eddy activity throughout. Without interior heating the jets do not migrate and a divergent eddy angular momentum flux at the equator spins up a broad, 50 m/s sub-rotating equatorial jet with weak eddy activity at low latitudes.


Simulating Jupiter's weather layer. Part II: Passive ammonia and water cycles

Icarus Elsevier 326 (2018) 253-268

R Young, P Read, Y Wang

We examine the ammonia and water cycles in Jupiter's upper troposphere and lower stratosphere during spin-up of a multiple zonal jet circulation using the Oxford Jupiter GCM. Jupiter's atmosphere is simulated at 512 x 256 horizontal resolution with 33 vertical levels between 0.01 and 18 bar, putting the lowest level well below the expected water cloud base. Simulations with and without a 5.7 W/m2 interior heat source were run for 130000-150000d to allow the deep atmosphere to come into radiative-convective-dynamical equilibrium, with variants on the interior heating case including varying the initial tracer distribution, particle condensate diameter, and cloud process timescales. The cloud scheme includes simple representations of the ammonia and water cycles. Ammonia vapour changes phase to ice, and reacts with hydrogen sulphide to produce ammonium hydrosulphide. Water changes phases between vapour, liquid, and ice depending on local environmental conditions, and all condensates sediment at their respective Stokes velocities. With interior heating, clouds of ammonia ice, ammonium hydrosulphide ice, and water ice form with cloud bases around 0.4 bar, 1.5 bar, and 3 bar respectively. Without interior heating the ammonia cloud base forms in the same way, but the ammonium hydrosulphide and water clouds sediment to the bottom of the domain. The liquid water cloud is either absent or extremely sparse. Zonal structures form that correlate regions of strong latitudinal shear with regions of constant condensate concentration, implying that jets act as barriers to the mixing. Regions with locally high and low cloud concentrations also correlated with regions of upwelling and downwelling, respectively. Shortly after initialisation, the ammonia vapour distribution up to the cloud base resembles the enhanced concentration seen in Juno observations, due to strong meridional mean circulation at the equator. The resemblance decays rapidly over time, but suggests that at least some of the relevant physics is captured by the model. The comparison should improve with additional microphysics and better representation of the deep ammonia reservoir.


Magma ascent in planetesimals: control by grain size

Earth and Planetary Science Letters Elsevier 507 (2018) 154-165

T Lichtenberg, T Keller, R Katz, GJ Golabek, TV Gerya

Rocky planetesimals in the early solar system melted internally and evolved chemically due to radiogenic heating from 26Al. Here we quantify the parametric controls on magma genesis and transport using a coupled petrological and fluid mechanical model of reactive two-phase flow. We find the mean grain size of silicate minerals to be a key control on magma ascent. For grain sizes ≳1 mm, melt segregation produces distinct radial structure and chemical stratification. This stratification is most pronounced for bodies formed at around 1 Myr after formation of Ca, Al-rich inclusions. These findings suggest a link between the time and orbital location of planetesimal formation and their subsequent structural and chemical evolution. According to our models, the evolution of partially molten planetesimal interiors falls into two categories. In the magma ocean scenario, the whole interior of a planetesimal experiences nearly complete melting, which would result in turbulent convection and core–mantle differentiation by the rainfall mechanism. In the magma sill scenario, segregating melts gradually deplete the deep interior of the radiogenic heat source. In this case, magma may form melt-rich layers beneath a cool and stable lid, while core formation would proceed by percolation. Our findings suggest that grain sizes prevalent during the internal heating stage governed magma ascent in planetesimals. Regardless of whether evolution progresses toward a magma ocean or magma sill structure, our models predict that temperature inversions due to rapid 26Al redistribution are limited to bodies formed earlier than ≈1 Myr after CAIs. We find that if grain size was ≲1 mm during peak internal melting, only elevated solid–melt density contrasts (such as found for the reducing conditions in enstatite chondrite compositions) would allow substantial melt segregation to occur.


Overview of new MAST physics in anticipation of first results from MAST Upgrade

Nuclear Fusion IOP Science 59 (2019) 112011

RJ Akers, Harrison, JS Allcock, SY Allan, JO Allen, M Barnes, L Appel, NB Ben Ayedl, W Boeglin, J Bradley, C Bowman, P Browning, P Bryant, M Carr, M Cecconello, CD Challis, IT Chapman, S Chapman, GJ Colyer, S Conroy, G Cunningham, NJ Conway, M Cox, RO Dendy, W Dorland

The mega amp spherical tokamak (MAST) was a low aspect ratio device (R/a  =  0.85/0.65 ~ 1.3) with similar poloidal cross-section to other medium-size tokamaks. The physics programme concentrates on addressing key physics issues for the operation of ITER, design of DEMO and future spherical tokamaks by utilising high resolution diagnostic measurements closely coupled with theory and modelling to significantly advance our understanding. An empirical scaling of the energy confinement time that favours higher power, lower collisionality devices is consistent with gyrokinetic modelling of electron scale turbulence. Measurements of ion scale turbulence with beam emission spectroscopy and gyrokinetic modelling in up-down symmetric plasmas find that the symmetry of the turbulence is broken by flow shear. Near the non-linear stability threshold, flow shear tilts the density fluctuation correlation function and skews the fluctuation amplitude distribution. Results from fast particle physics studies include the observation that sawteeth are found to redistribute passing and trapped fast particles injected from neutral beam injectors in equal measure, suggesting that resonances between the m  =  1 perturbation and the fast ion orbits may be playing a dominant role in the fast ion transport. Measured D–D fusion products from a neutron camera and a charged fusion product detector are 40% lower than predictions from TRANSP/NUBEAM, highlighting possible deficiencies in the guiding centre approximation. Modelling of fast ion losses in the presence of resonant magnetic perturbations (RMPs) can reproduce trends observed in experiments when the plasma response and charge-exchange losses are accounted for. Measurements with a neutral particle analyser during merging-compression start-up indicate the acceleration of ions and electrons. Transport at the plasma edge has been improved through reciprocating probe measurements that have characterised a geodesic acoustic mode at the edge of an ohmic L-mode plasma and particle-in-cell modelling has improved the interpretation of plasma potential estimates from ball-pen probes. The application of RMPs leads to a reduction in particle confinement in L-mode and H-mode and an increase in the core ionization source. The ejection of secondary filaments following type-I ELMs correlates with interactions with surfaces near the X-point. Simulations of the interaction between pairs of filaments in the scrape-off layer suggest this results in modest changes to their velocity, and in most cases can be treated as moving independently. A stochastic model of scrape-off layer profile formation based on the superposition of non-interacting filaments is in good agreement with measured time-average profiles. Transport in the divertor has been improved through fast camera imaging, indicating the presence of a quiescent region devoid of filament near the X-point, extending from the separatrix to ψ n ~ 1.02. Simulations of turbulent transport in the divertor show that the angle between the divertor leg on the curvature vector strongly influences transport into the private flux region via the interchange mechanism. Coherence imaging measurements show counter-streaming flows of impurities due to gas puffing increasing the pressure on field lines where the gas is ionised. MAST Upgrade is based on the original MAST device, with substantially improved capabilities to operate with a Super-X divertor to test extended divertor leg concepts. SOLPS-ITER modelling predicts the detachment threshold will be reduced by more than a factor of 2, in terms of upstream density, in the Super-X compared with a conventional configuration and that the radiation front movement is passively stabilised before it reaches the X-point. 1D fluid modelling reveals the key role of momentum and power loss mechanisms in governing detachment onset and evolution. Analytic modelling indicates that long legs placed at large major radius, or equivalently low at the target compared with the X-point are more amenable to external control. With MAST Upgrade experiments expected in 2019, a thorough characterisation of the sources of the intrinsic error field has been carried out and a mitigation strategy developed.


Investigating the semiannual oscillation on Mars using data assimilation

Icarus Elsevier 333 (2019) 404-414 )

T Ruan, N Lewis, S Lewis, L Montabone, P Read

A Martian semiannual oscillation (SAO), similar to that in the Earths tropical stratosphere, is evident in the Mars Analysis Correction Data Assimilation reanalysis dataset (MACDA) version 1.0, not only in the tropics, but also extending to higher latitudes. Unlike on Earth, the Martian SAO is found not always to reverse its zonal wind direction, but only manifests itself as a deceleration of the dominant wind at certain pressure levels and latitudes. Singular System Analysis (SSA) is further applied on the zonal-mean zonal wind in different latitude bands to reveal the characteristics of SAO phenomena at different latitudes. The second pair of principal components (PCs) is usually dominated by a SAO signal, though the SAO signal can be strong enough to manifest itself also in the first pair of PCs. An analysis of terms in the Transformed Eulerian Mean equation (TEM) is applied in the tropics to further elucidate the forcing processes driving the tendency of the zonal-mean zonal wind. The zonal-mean meridional advection is found to correlate strongly with the observed oscillations of zonal-mean zonal wind, and supplies the majority of the westward (retrograde) forcing in the SAO cycle. The forcing due to various non-zonal waves supplies forcing to the zonal-mean zonal wind that is nearly the opposite of the forcing due to meridional advection above ∼3 Pa altitude, but it also partly supports the SAO between 40 Pa and 3 Pa. Some distinctive features occurring during the period of the Mars year (MY) 25 global-scale dust storm (GDS) are also notable in our diagnostic results with substantially stronger values of eastward and westward momentum in the second half of MY 25 and stronger forcing due to vertical advection, transient waves and thermal tides


Climate impacts of cultured meat and beef cattle

Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems Frontiers Media 3 (2019) 5

J Lynch, R Pierrehumbert

Improved greenhouse gas (GHG) emission efficiency of production has been proposed as one of the biggest potential advantages of cultured meat over conventional livestock production systems. Comparisons with beef are typically highlighted, as it is a highly emissions intensive food product. In this study, we present a more rigorous comparison of the potential climate impacts of cultured meat and cattle production than has previously been made. Warming impacts are evaluated using a simple climate model that simulates the different behaviors of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), rather than relying on carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) metrics. We compare the temperature impact of beef cattle and cultured meat production at all times to 1,000 years in the future, using four synthetic meat GHG footprints currently available in the literature and three different beef production systems studied in an earlier climate modeling paper. Cattle systems are associated with the production of all three GHGs above, including significant emissions of CH4, while cultured meat emissions are almost entirely CO2 from energy generation. Under continuous high global consumption, cultured meat results in less warming than cattle initially, but this gap narrows in the long term and in some cases cattle production causes far less warming, as CH4 emissions do not accumulate, unlike CO2. We then model a decline in meat consumption to more sustainable levels following high consumption, and show that although cattle systems generally result in greater peak warming than cultured meat, the warming effect declines and stabilizes under the new emission rates of cattle systems, while the CO2 based warming from cultured meat persists and accumulates even under reduced consumption, again overtaking cattle production in some scenarios. We conclude that cultured meat is not prima facie climatically superior to cattle; its relative impact instead depends on the availability of decarbonized energy generation and the specific production systems that are realized.


Meat consumption, health and the environment

Science American Association for the Advancement of Science 361 (2018) 5324-

C Godfray, P Aveyard, T Garnett, J Hall, T Key, J Lorimer, R Pierrehumbert, P Scarborough, M Springmann, S Jebb

Both the global average per capita consumption of meat and the total amount of meat consumed are rising, driven by increasing average individual incomes and by population growth. The consumption of different types of meat and meat products has substantial effects on people’s health, and livestock production can have major negative effects on the environment. Here, we explore the evidence base for these assertions and the options policy-makers have should they wish to intervene to affect population meat consumption. We highlight where more research is required and the great importance of integrating insights from the natural and social sciences.


A Chorus of the WindsOn Saturn!

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-PLANETS 123 (2018) 1007-1011

PL Read


Comparative terrestrial atmospheric circulation regimes in simplified global circulation models. Part I: From cyclostrophic super‐rotation to geostrophic turbulence

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society Wiley 144 (2018) 2537-2557

Y Wang, P Read, F Tabataba-Vakili, RMB Young

The regimes of possible global atmospheric circulation patterns in an Earth‐like atmosphere are explored using a simplified Global Circulation Model (GCM) based on the University of Hamburg's Portable University Model for the Atmosphere (PUMA)—with simplified (linear) boundary‐layer friction, a Newtonian cooling scheme, and dry convective adjustment (designated here as PUMA‐S). A series of controlled experiments is conducted by varying planetary rotation rate and imposed equator‐to‐pole temperature difference. These defining parameters are combined further with each other into dimensionless forms to establish a parameter space in which the occurrences of different circulation regimes are mapped and classified. Clear, coherent trends are found when varying planetary rotation rate (thermal Rossby number) and frictional and thermal relaxation time‐scales. The sequence of circulation regimes as a function of parameters, such as the planetary rotation rate, strongly resembles that obtained in laboratory experiments on rotating, stratified flows, especially if a topographic β‐effect is included in those experiments to emulate the planetary vorticity gradients in an atmosphere induced by the spherical curvature of the planet. A regular baroclinic wave regime is also obtained at intermediate values of thermal Rossby number and its characteristics and dominant zonal wavenumber depend strongly on the strength of radiative and frictional damping. These regular waves exhibit some strong similarities to baroclinic storms observed on Mars under some conditions. Multiple jets are found at the highest rotation rates, when the Rossby deformation radius and other eddy‐related length‐scales are much smaller than the radius of the planet. These exhibit some similarity to the multiple zonal jets observed on gas giant planets. Jets form on a scale comparable to the most energetic eddies and the Rhines scale poleward of the supercritical latitude. The balance of heat transport varies strongly with Ω∗ between eddies and zonally symmetric flows, becoming weak with fast rotation.


Comparative terrestrial atmospheric circulation regimes in simplified global circulation models: II. energy budgets and spectral transfers

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society Wiley 144 (2018) 2558-2576

F Tabataba-Vakili, Y Wang, P Augier, E Lindborg, A Valeanu, PL Read, RMB Young

The energetics of possible global atmospheric circulation patterns in an Earth-like atmosphere are explored using a simplified GCM based on the University of Hamburg’s Portable University Model for the Atmosphere (designated here as PUMA-S), forced by linear relaxation towards a prescribed temperature field and subject to Rayleigh surface drag and hyperdiffusive dissipation. Results from a series of simulations, obtained by varying planetary rotation rate Ω with an imposed equator-to-pole temperature difference, were analysed to determine the structure and magnitude of the heat transport and other contributions to the energy budget for the time-averaged, equilibrated flow. These show clear trends with rotation rate, with the most intense Lorenz energy cycle for an Earth-sized planet occurring with a rotation rate around half that of the present day Earth (i.e. Ω* = Ω/ΩE = 1/2, where ΩE is the rotation rate of the Earth). KE and APE spectra, EK(n) and EA(n) (where n is total spherical wavenumber), also show clear trends with rotation rate, with n^-3 enstrophy-dominated spectra around Ω* = 1 and steeper (~ n^-5) slopes in the zonal mean flow with little evidence for the n^-5/3 spectrum anticipated for an inverse KE cascade. Instead, both KE and APE spectra become almost flat at scales larger than the internal Rossby radius, Ld, and exhibit near-equipartition at high wavenumbers. At Ω* << 1, the spectrum becomes dominated by KE with EK(n) ~ (2 - 3)EA(n) at most wavenumbers and a slope that tends towards n^-5/3 across most of the spectrum. Spectral flux calculations show that enstrophy and APE are almost always cascaded downscale, regardless of rotation rate. KE cascades are more complicated, however, with downscale transfers across almost all wavenumbers, dominated by horizontally divergent modes, for Ω* ≲ 1/4. At higher rotation rates, transfers of KE become increasingly dominated by rotational (horizontally non-divergent) components with strong upscale transfers (dominated by eddy-zonal flow interactions) for scales larger than Ld and weaker downscale transfers for scales smaller than Ld.


Global or local pure-condensible atmospheres: Importance of horizontal latent heat transport

Astrophysical Journal Institute of Physics Publishing, Inc 867 (2018)

F Ding, RT Pierrehumbert


A chemical survey of exoplanets with ARIEL

Experimental Astronomy Springer 46 (2018) 135–209-

P Eccleston, G Micela, M Ollivier, P Eccleston, G Pilbratt, L Puig, D Turrini, G Tinetti, P Drossart, P Hartogh, A Heske, J Leconte, N Bowles

Thousands of exoplanets have now been discovered with a huge range of masses, sizes and orbits: from rocky Earth-like planets to large gas giants grazing the surface of their host star. However, the essential nature of these exoplanets remains largely mysterious: there is no known, discernible pattern linking the presence, size, or orbital parameters of a planet to the nature of its parent star. We have little idea whether the chemistry of a planet is linked to its formation environment, or whether the type of host star drives the physics and chemistry of the planet’s birth, and evolution. The Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL) has been selected by the European Space Agency as the next mediumclass science mission, M4, to address these scientific questions. ARIEL was conceived to observe a large number (~1000) of transiting planets for statistical understanding, including gas giants, Neptunes, super-Earths and Earth-size planets around a range of host star types using transit spectroscopy in the 1.25-7.8 μm spectral range and multiple narrow-band photometry in the optical. ARIEL will focus on warm and hot planets to take advantage of their well-mixed atmospheres which should show minimal condensation and sequestration of high-Z materials compared to their colder Solar System siblings. Said warm and hot atmospheres are expected to be more representative of the planetary bulk composition. Observations of these warm/hot exoplanets, and in particular of their elemental composition (especially C, O, N, S, Si), will allow the understanding of the early stages of planetary and atmospheric formation during the nebular phase and the following few million years. ARIEL will thus provide a representative picture of the chemical nature of the exoplanets and relate this directly to the type and chemical environment of the host star. ARIEL is designed as a dedicated survey mission for combined-light spectroscopy, capable of observing a large and well-defined planet sample within its 4-year mission lifetime. Transit, eclipse and phase-curve spectroscopy methods, whereby the signal from the star and planet are differentiated using knowledge of the planetary ephemerides, allow us to measure atmospheric signals from the planet at levels of 10-100 part per million (ppm) relative to the star and, given the bright nature of targets, also allows more sophisticated techniques, such as eclipse mapping, to give a deeper insight into the nature of the atmosphere. These types of observations require a stable payload and satellite platform with broad, instantaneous wavelength coverage to detect many molecular species, probe the thermal structure, identify clouds and monitor the stellar activity. The wavelength range proposed covers all the expected major atmospheric gases from e.g. H2O, CO2, CH4 NH3, HCN, H2S through to the more exotic metallic compounds, such as TiO, VO, and condensed species. Simulations of ARIEL performance in conducting exoplanet surveys have been performed – using conservative estimates of mission performance and a full model of all significant noise sources in the measurement – using a list of potential ARIEL targets that incorporates the latest available exoplanet statistics. The conclusion at the end of the Phase A study, is that ARIEL – in line with the stated mission objectives – will be able to observe about 1000 exoplanets depending on the details of the adopted survey strategy, thus confirming the feasibility of the main science objectives.


Wave-mean flow interactions in the atmospheric circulation of tidally locked planets

Astrophysical Journal IOP Publishing 869 (2018)

M Hammond, R Pierrehumbert

We use a linear shallow-water model to investigate the global circulation of the atmospheres of tidally locked planets. Simulations, observations, and simple models show that if these planets are sufficiently rapidly rotating, their atmospheres have an eastward equatorial jet and a hot-spot east of the substellar point. We linearize the shallow-water model about this eastward flow and its associated geostrophic height perturbation. The forced solutions of this system show that the shear flow explains the form of the global circulation, particularly the hot-spot shift and the positions of the cold standing waves on the night-side. We suggest that the eastward hot-spot shift in observations and 3D simulations of these atmospheres is caused by the zonal flow Doppler-shifting the stationary wave response eastwards, summed with the geostrophic height perturbation from the flow itself. This differs from other studies which explained the hot-spot shift as pure advection of heat from air flowing eastward from the substellar point, or as equatorial waves travelling eastwards. We compare our solutions to simulations in our climate model Exo-FMS and show that they matched the position of the eastward-shifted hot-spot, and the global wind pattern. We discuss how planetary properties affect the global circulation, and how they change observables such as the hot-spot shift or day-night contrast. We conclude that the wave-mean flow interaction be tween the stationary planetary waves and the equatorial jet is a vital part of the equilibrium circulation on tidally locked planets.


A hexagon in Saturn’s northern stratosphere surrounding the emerging summertime polar vortex

Nature Communications Springer Nature 9 (2018) 3564

LN Fletcher, GS Orton, JA Sinclair, S Guerlet, PL Read, A Antunano, RK Achterberg, P Irwin, FM Flasar, GL Bjoraker, BE Hesman, J Hurley, M Segura, A Mamoutkine, N Gorius, SB Calcutt

Saturn’s polar stratosphere exhibits the seasonal growth and dissipation of broad, warm vortices poleward of ~75° latitude, which are strongest in the summer and absent in winter. The longevity of the exploration of the Saturn system by Cassini allows the use of infrared spectroscopy to trace the formation of the North Polar Stratospheric Vortex (NPSV), a region of enhanced temperatures and elevated hydrocarbon abundances at millibar pressures. We constrain the timescales of stratospheric vortex formation and dissipation in both hemispheres. Although the NPSV formed during late northern spring, by the end of Cassini’s reconnaissance (shortly after northern summer solstice), it still did not display the contrasts in temperature and composition that were evident at the south pole during southern summer. The newly formed NPSV was bounded by a strengthening stratospheric thermal gradient near 78°N. The emergent boundary was hexagonal, suggesting that the Rossby wave responsible for Saturn’s long-lived polar hexagon—which was previously expected to be trapped in the troposphere—can influence the stratospheric temperatures some 300 km above Saturn’s clouds.

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