Friday, September 30, 2016

Exploring Venus' Atmospheric Superrotation With Simulations


Mendonça et al


The atmospheric circulation in Venus is well known to exhibit strong super-rotation. However, the atmospheric mechanisms responsible for the formation of this super-rotation are still not fully understood. In this work, we developed a new Venus general circulation model to study the most likely mechanisms driving the atmosphere to the current observed circulation. Our model includes a new radiative transfer, convection and suitably adapted boundary layer schemes and a dynamical core that takes into account the dependence of the heat capacity at constant pressure with temperature.

The new Venus model is able to simulate a super-rotation phenomenon in the cloud region quantitatively similar to the one observed. The mechanisms maintaining the strong winds in the cloud region were found in the model results to be a combination of zonal mean circulation, thermal tides and transient waves. In this process, the semi-diurnal tide excited in the upper clouds has a key contribution in transporting axial angular momentum mainly from the upper atmosphere towards the cloud region. The magnitude of the super-rotation in the cloud region is sensitive to various radiative parameters such as the amount of solar radiative energy absorbed by the surface, which controls the static stability near the surface. In this work, we also discuss the main difficulties in representing the flow below the cloud base in Venus atmospheric models.

Our new radiative scheme is more suitable for 3D Venus climate models than those used in previous work due to its easy adaptability to different atmospheric conditions. This flexibility of the model was crucial to explore the uncertainties in the lower atmospheric conditions and may also be used in the future to explore, for example, dynamical-radiative-microphysical feedbacks.

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