Simulating Jupiter's weather layer. Part II: Passive ammonia and water cycles

Roland M.B. Young, Peter L. Read, Yixiong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the ammonia and water cycles in Jupiter's upper troposphere and lower stratosphere during spin-up of a multiple zonal jet global circulation using Oxford's Jupiter General Circulation Model. Jupiter's atmosphere is simulated at 512 × 256 horizontal resolution with 33 vertical levels between 0.01 and 18 bar, putting the lowest level well below the expected water cloud base. Simulations with and without a 5.7 Wm −2 interior heat source were run for 130000–150000 d to allow the deep atmosphere to come into radiative-convective-dynamical equilibrium, with variants on the interior heating case including varying the initial tracer distribution, particle condensate diameter, and cloud process timescales. The cloud scheme includes simple representations of the ammonia and water cycles. Ammonia vapour changes phase to ice, and reacts with hydrogen sulphide to produce ammonium hydrosulphide. Water changes phases between vapour, liquid, and ice depending on local environmental conditions, and all condensates sediment at their respective Stokes velocities. With interior heating, clouds of ammonia ice, ammonium hydrosulphide ice, and water ice form with cloud bases around 0.4 bar, 1.5 bar, and 3 bar, respectively. Without interior heating the ammonia cloud base forms in the same way, but the ammonium hydrosulphide and water clouds sediment to the bottom of the domain. The liquid water cloud is either absent or extremely sparse. Zonal structures form that correlate regions of strong latitudinal shear with regions of constant condensate concentration, implying that jets act as barriers to the mixing. Regions with locally high and low cloud concentrations also correlated with regions of upwelling and downwelling, respectively. Shortly after initialisation, the ammonia vapour distribution up to the cloud base resembles the enhanced concentration seen in Juno observations, due to strong meridional mean circulation at the equator. The resemblance decays rapidly over time, but suggests that at least some of the relevant physics is captured by the model. The comparison should improve with additional microphysics and better representation of the deep ammonia reservoir.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-268
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Ammonia
  • Clouds
  • General Circulation Model
  • Jupiter
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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