Superrotation in a Venus General Circulation Model


A superrotating atmosphere with equatorial winds of ∼35 m s-1 is simulated using a simplified Venus general circulation model (GCM). The equatorial superrotation in the model atmosphere is maintained by barotropic instabilities in the midlatitude jets which transport angular momentum toward the equator. The midlatitude jets are maintained by the mean meridional circulation, and the momentum transporting waves are qualitatively similar to observed midlatitude waves; an equatorial Kelvin wave is also present in the atmosphere. The GCM is forced by linearized cooling and friction parameterizations, with hyperdiffusion and a polar Fourier filter to maintain numerical stability. Atmospheric superrotation is a robust feature of the model and is spontaneously produced without specific tuning. A strong meridional circulation develops in the form of a single Hadley cell, extending from the equator to the pole in both hemispheres, and from the surface to 50 km altitude. The zonal jets produced by this circulation reach 45 m s−1 at 60 km, with peak winds of 35 m s−1 at the equator. A warm pole and cold collar are also found in the GCM, caused by adiabatic warming in the mean meridional circulation. Wave frequencies and zonal wind speeds are smaller than in observations by cloud tracking but are consistent with a Doppler shifting by wind speeds in the generating region of each wave. Magnitudes of polar temperature anomalies are smaller than the observed features, suggesting dynamical processes alone may not be sufficient to maintain the large observed temperature contrasts at the magnitudes and periods found in this GCM.

Journal of Geophysical Research