Simulation of equatorial and high-latitude jets on Jupiter in a deep convection model

Nature. 2005 Nov 10;438(7065):193-6. doi: 10.1038/nature04208.


The bands of Jupiter represent a global system of powerful winds. Broad eastward equatorial jets are flanked by smaller-scale, higher-latitude jets flowing in alternating directions. Jupiter's large thermal emission suggests that the winds are powered from within, but the zonal flow depth is limited by increasing density and electrical conductivity in the molecular hydrogen-helium atmosphere towards the centre of the planet. Two types of planetary flow models have been explored: shallow-layer models reproduce multiple high-latitude jets, but not the equatorial flow system, and deep convection models only reproduce an eastward equatorial jet with two flanking neighbours. Here we present a numerical model of three-dimensional rotating convection in a relatively thin spherical shell that generates both types of jets. The simulated flow is turbulent and quasi-two-dimensional and, as observed for the jovian jets, simulated jet widths follow Rhines' scaling theory. Our findings imply that Jupiter's latitudinal transition in jet width corresponds to a separation between the bottom-bounded flow structures in higher latitudes and the deep equatorial flows.