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Published April 1, 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

A general circulation model ensemble study of the atmospheric circulation of Venus


The response of three numerical model dynamical cores to Venus-like forcing and friction is described in this paper. Each dynamical core simulates a super-rotating atmospheric circulation with equatorial winds of 35 ± 10 m/s, maintained by horizontally propagating eddies leaving the equatorial region and inducing a momentum convergence there. We discuss the balance between the mean circulation and eddies with reference to the production of a super-rotating equatorial flow. The balance between the horizontal eddies and vertical eddies in the polar region is discussed and shown to produce an indirect overturning circulation above the jet. The indirect overturning may be related to the observed region of the polar dipole in the Venus atmosphere. Reservoirs of energy and momentum are calculated for each dynamical core and explicit sources and sinks are diagnosed from the general circulation model (GCM). The effect of a strong "sponge layer" damping to rest is compared with eddy damping and found to change significantly the momentum balance within the top "sponge layer" but does not significantly affect the super-rotation of the bulk of the atmosphere. The Lorenz (1955) energy cycle is calculated and the circulation is shown to be dominated by energy conversion between the mean potential energy and mean kinetic energy reservoirs, with barotropic energy conversion between the mean kinetic energy and eddy kinetic energy reservoirs. We suggest modifications to the GCM parameterizations on the basis of our analysis of the atmospheric circulation and discuss the effect of numerical parameterizations on the simulated atmosphere.

Additional Information

© 2010 American Geophysical Union. Received 10 August 2009; accepted 28 October 2009; published 1 April 2010. The numerical simulations for this research were performed on Caltech's Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences Dell cluster. This work was performed under the NASA PATM grant NNX07AF33G at the California Institute of Technology. We thank the two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their comments that have improved this manuscript.

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