Habitable Zones & Global Climate

The Limits of the Primitive Equations of Dynamics for Warm, Slowly Rotating Small Neptunes and Super Earths

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
December 6, 2018
Filed under
The Limits of the Primitive Equations of Dynamics for Warm, Slowly Rotating Small Neptunes and Super Earths
Slowly Rotating Small Neptune

We present significant differences in the simulated atmospheric flow for warm, tidally-locked small Neptunes and super Earths (based on a nominal GJ 1214b) when solving the simplified, and commonly used, primitive dynamical equations or the full Navier-Stokes equations.

The dominant prograde, superrotating zonal jet is markedly different between the simulations which are performed using practically identical numerical setups, within the same model. The differences arise due to the breakdown of the so-called `shallow-fluid’ and traditional approximations, which worsens when rotation rates are slowed, and day-night temperature contrasts are increased.

The changes in the zonal advection between simulations solving the full and simplified equations, give rise to significant differences in the atmospheric redistribution of heat, altering the position of the hottest part of the atmosphere and temperature contrast between the day and night sides. The implications for the atmospheric chemistry and, therefore, observations need to be studied with a model including a more detailed treatment of the radiative transfer and chemistry.

Small Neptunes and super Earths are extremely abundant and important, potentially bridging the structural properties (mass, radius, composition) of terrestrial and gas giant planets. Our results indicate care is required when interpreting the output of models solving the primitive equations of motion for such planets.

N. J. Mayne, B. Drummond, F. Debras, E. Jaupart, J. Manners, I. A. Boutle, I. Baraffe, K. Kohary
(Submitted on 6 Dec 2018)

Comments: 26 pages, 11 figures, Accepted for Publication in ApJ
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1812.02451 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1812.02451v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Nathan Mayne Dr
[v1] Thu, 6 Dec 2018 10:48:10 UTC (13,602 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) πŸ––πŸ»