Dynamics and Chemistry in Jovian Atmospheres: 2D Hydrodynamical Simulations


A key component of our understanding of the formation and evolution of planetary systems is chemical composition. Problematically, however, in the atmospheres of cooler gas giants, dynamics on the same timescale as chemical reactions pull molecular abundances out of thermochemical equilibrium. These disequilibrium abundances are treated using what is known as the "quench" approximation, based upon the mixing length theory of convection. The validity of this approximation is questionable, though, as the atmospheres of gas giants encompass two distinct dynamic regimes: convective and radiative. To resolve this issue, we conduct 2D hydrodynamical simulations using the state-of-the-art pseudospectral simulation framework Dedalus. In these simulations, we solve the fully compressible equations of fluid motion in a local slab geometry that mimics the structure of a planetary atmosphere (convective zone underlying a radiative zone). Through the inclusion of passive tracers, we explore the transport properties of both regimes, and assess the validity of the classical eddy diffusion parameterization. With the addition of active tracers, we examine the interactions between dynamical and chemical processes, and generate prescriptions for the observational community. By providing insight into mixing and feedback mechanisms in Jovian atmospheres, this research lays a solid foundation for future global simulations and the construction of physically-sound models for current and future observations.

AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts