Latitudinal transport by barotropic waves in Titan's stratosphere.. I. General properties from a horizontal shallow-water model
We present a numerical study of barotropic waves in Titan's stratosphere based on a shallow-water model. The forcing of the zonal flow by the mean meridional circulation is represented by a relaxation towards a barotropically unstable wind profile. The relaxation profile is consistent with observations and with previous results from a 3D general circulation model. The time constant of the forcing that best matches the northward eddy-transport of zonal momentum from the 3D model is τ̃5 Titan days. The eddy wind field is a zonal wavenumber-2 wave with a peak amplitude about 10% of the mean wind speed. The latitudinal transport of angular momentum by the wave tends to keep the flow close to marginal stability by carrying momentum upgradient, from the core of the jets into the low latitudes. Although the strongest eddy motions occur at the latitudes of the wind maxima, the strongest mixing takes place at the barotropically unstable regions, close to ±30° and spanning about 30° in latitude. An eddy-mixing time constant of the order of 1 Titan day is inferred within these regions, and of a few tens of days within regions of stable flow. Horizontal gradients in transient tracer fields are less than 10% of the latitudinal gradient of the meridional tracer profile. Cassini's detection of such waves could provide a direct observation of wind speeds at stratospheric levels.