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Published December 2015 | Published
Journal Article Open

Aerosol influence on energy balance of the middle atmosphere of Jupiter


Aerosols are ubiquitous in planetary atmospheres in the Solar System. However, radiative forcing on Jupiter has traditionally been attributed to solar heating and infrared cooling of gaseous constituents only, while the significance of aerosol radiative effects has been a long-standing controversy. Here we show, based on observations from the NASA spacecraft Voyager and Cassini, that gases alone cannot maintain the global energy balance in the middle atmosphere of Jupiter. Instead, a thick aerosol layer consisting of fluffy, fractal aggregate particles produced by photochemistry and auroral chemistry dominates the stratospheric radiative heating at middle and high latitudes, exceeding the local gas heating rate by a factor of 5–10. On a global average, aerosol heating is comparable to the gas contribution and aerosol cooling is more important than previously thought. We argue that fractal aggregate particles may also have a significant role in controlling the atmospheric radiative energy balance on other planets, as on Jupiter.

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© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Received 14 August 2015; Accepted 18 November 2015; Published 22 December 2015. We thank E. Karkoschka, L. Brown, G. Orton, J. Bailey, T. Kostiuk, A. Showman and L. Li for useful discussions and comments. Special thanks to M. Gerstell, P. Gao, R. Hu, P. Kopparla, C. Li, M.C. Liang, S. Newman, R.L. Shia, M. Wong, X. Xi and Q. Zhang for proofreading the manuscript. The early phase of this research was supported by the Outer Planets Research program via NASA Grant JPL 1452240 to the California Institute of Technology. R.A.W. and C.A.N. are supported by the NASA Cassini project. P.G.J.I. acknowledges the support of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council. Author Contributions: X.Z. carried out the radiative modelling and CIRS spectral retrieval; R.A.W. provided the ISS data; C.A.N. provided the CIRS data; R.A.W. and Y.L.Y. helped with radiative modelling; P.G.J.I. and C.A.N. helped with spectral inversion modelling; all authors contributed to the paper writing.

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023