Earth cyclones may help explain vortices on Venus

March 15th, 2009 - 1:34 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 15 (ANI): An international team of scientists is studying cyclones on Earth to help them better understand ‘’superrotating” vortices on the planet Venus. At cloud top level, the entire atmosphere of Venus circles the planet in just about four Earth days, much faster than the solid planet does. Despite this “superrotation,” some dynamical and morphological similarities exist between the vortex organization in the atmospheres of Venus’’s northern and southern hemispheres and tropical cyclones and hurricanes on Earth. First detected by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter near the northern pole and recently by Venus Express orbiter around the southern pole, an S-shaped feature in the center of the vortices on Venus is also known to occur in Earth’’s tropical cyclones. Using an idealized nonlinear and nondivergent barotropic model, the research team have shown that these S-shaped features are the manifestations of barotropic instability. They found that similar to the S-shapes seen in tropical cyclones, the S-shapes in Venus’’s vortices are transient. Given the challenges in measuring the deep circulation of Venus’’s atmosphere, the authors expect that the morphological similarities between vortices on Earth and Venus might help scientists better understand atmospheric superrotation on Venus and guide future observations. The team was from Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, ASF, INAF, Italy, and, Max Plank Institute for Solar System Research, Germany. (ANI)

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