Numerical simulations of Jupiter's moist convection layer: Structure and dynamics in statistically steady states

K. Sugiyama, K. Nakajima, M. Odaka, K. Kuramoto, Y. Y. Hayashi

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33 Citations (Scopus)


A series of long-term numerical simulations of moist convection in Jupiter's atmosphere is performed in order to investigate the idealized characteristics of the vertical structure of multi-composition clouds and the convective motions associated with them, varying the deep abundances of condensable gases and the autoconversion time scale, the latter being one of the most questionable parameters in cloud microphysical parameterization. The simulations are conducted using a two-dimensional cloud resolving model that explicitly represents the convective motion and microphysics of the three cloud components, H2O, NH3, and NH4SH imposing a body cooling that substitutes the net radiative cooling. The results are qualitatively similar to those reported in Sugiyama et al. (Sugiyama, K. et al. [2011]. Intermittent cumulonimbus activity breaking the three-layer cloud structure of Jupiter. Geophys. Res. Lett. 38, L13201. doi:10.1029/2011GL047878): stable layers associated with condensation and chemical reaction act as effective dynamical and compositional boundaries, intense cumulonimbus clouds develop with distinct temporal intermittency, and the active transport associated with these clouds results in the establishment of mean vertical profiles of condensates and condensable gases that are distinctly different from the hitherto accepted three-layered structure (e.g., Atreya, S.K., Romani, P.N. [1985]. Photochemistry and clouds of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. In: Recent Advances in Planetary Meteorology. Cambridge Univ. Press, London, pp. 17-68). Our results also demonstrate that the period of intermittent cloud activity is roughly proportional to the deep abundance of H2O gas. The autoconversion time scale does not strongly affect the results, except for the vertical profiles of the condensates. Changing the autoconversion time scale by a factor of 100 changes the intermittency period by a factor of less than two, although it causes a dramatic increase in the amount of condensates in the upper troposphere. The moist convection layer becomes potentially unstable with respect to an air parcel rising from below the H2O lifting condensation level (LCL) well before the development of cumulonimbus clouds. The instability accumulates until an appropriate trigger is provided by the H2O condensate that falls down through the H2O LCL; the H2O condensate drives a downward flow below the H2O LCL as a result of the latent cooling associated with the re-evaporation of the condensate, and the returning updrafts carry moist air from below to the moist convection layer. Active cloud development is terminated when the instability is completely exhausted. The period of intermittency is roughly equal to the time obtained by dividing the mean temperature increase, which is caused by active cumulonimbus development, by the body cooling rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-91
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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