Global climate modeling of Saturn's atmosphere: fast and accurate radiative transfer and exploration of seasonal variability
Recent observations of Saturn’s stratospheric thermal structure and composition revealed new phenomena: an equatorial oscillation in temperature, reminiscent of the Earth's Quasi-Biennal Oscillation ; strong meridional contrasts of hydrocarbons ; a warm “beacon” associated with the powerful 2010 storm. Those signatures cannot be reproduced by 1D photochemical and radiative models and suggest that atmospheric dynamics plays a key role. This motivated us to develop a complete 3D General Circulation Model (GCM) for Saturn, based on the LMDz hydrodynamical core, to explore the circulation, seasonal variability, and wave activity in Saturn's atmosphere. In order to closely reproduce Saturn's radiative forcing, a particular emphasis was put in obtaining fast and accurate radiative transfer calculations. Our radiative model uses correlated-k distributions and spectral discretization tailored for Saturn's atmosphere. We include internal heat flux, ring shadowing and aerosols. We will report on the sensitivity of the model to spectral discretization, spectroscopic databases, and aerosol scenarios (varying particle sizes, opacities and vertical structures). We will also discuss the radiative effect of the ring shadowing on Saturn's atmosphere. We will present a comparison of temperature fields obtained with this new radiative equilibrium model to that inferred from Cassini/CIRS observations. In the troposphere, our model reproduces the observed temperature knee caused by heating at the top of the tropospheric aerosol layer. In the lower stratosphere (20mbar <p<0.1 mbar), the overall meridional gradient between the summer and the winter hemispheres agrees with observations except in the equatorial region, where the temperature structure is governed by the dynamical equatorial oscillation. In the upper stratosphere (p<0.1 mbar), our modeled temperature is 5-10K too low compared to measurements. This suggests that processes other than radiative heating/cooling by trace species control the temperature at low pressure levels. Finally, we will show preliminary GCM simulations coupling the 3D dynamical core to this radiative model, and discuss the large-scale stratospheric circulations driven by the radiative forcing.
AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #45
- Pub Date:
- October 2013