A Caltech Library Service

Atmospheric dynamics of the outer planets

Ingersoll, Andrew P. (2002) Atmospheric dynamics of the outer planets. In: Meteorology at the millennium. International geophysics series. No.83. Academic Press , San Diego , pp. 306-315. ISBN 0-12-548035-0.

Full text is not posted in this repository.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The giant planets--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune- are fluid objects. The winds are powered by absorbed sunlight, as on earth, and by internal heat left over from planetary formation. The main constituents of the atmospheres are hydrogen and helium. The clouds are made of ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, and water. All four giant planets are banded, with multiple zonal jet streams. Even Uranus, whose spin axis is tipped by 98° relative to the orbit axis, shows latitudinal banding and zonal jets. Equator-to-pole temperature differences are close to zero. Wind speeds are larger than on earth and do not decrease with distance from the sun. Although the power/area at Neptune is only 1/20 that at Jupiter, the winds at Neptune are three times stronger. Stable vortices like the Great Red Spot of Jupiter and similar spots on Neptune come in all size ranges and exhibit a variety of behaviours including merging, orbiting, filament ejection, and oscillating in both shape and position. At least at cloud-top levels, 90% of the long-lived vortices are anticyclonic and sit in anticyclonic shear zones. Features in the cyclonic zones tend to be chaotic, with lifetimes of several days or less. These mesoscale eddies tend to have lightning in them, which suggests that they get their energy from moist convection. The rate of conversion of eddy kinetic energy into kinetic energy of the zonal jets is more than 10% of the power/area radiated by Jupiter. This fraction is more than an order of magnitude larger than on earth. Several lines of evidence now indicate that the winds at cloud-top levels are the surface manifestation of deep-rooted motions that extend into the interior and are presumably driven by internal heat.

Item Type:Book Section
Ingersoll, Andrew P.0000-0002-2035-9198
Additional Information:© 2002 by Academic Press.
Series Name:International geophysics series
Issue or Number:83
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121218-105555560
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36031
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Feb 2013 00:05
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 04:34

Repository Staff Only: item control page