Publication Abstracts

Del Genio and Barbara 2012

Del Genio, A.D., and J.M. Barbara, 2012: Constraints on Saturn's tropospheric general circulation from Cassini ISS images. Icarus, 219, 689-700, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2012.03.035.

An automated cloud tracking algorithm is applied to Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem high-resolution apoapsis images of Saturn from 2005 and 2007 and moderate resolution images from 2011 and 2012 to define the near-global distribution of zonal winds and eddy momentum fluxes at the middle troposphere cloud level and in the upper troposphere haze. Improvements in the tracking algorithm combined with the greater feature contrast in the northern hemisphere during the approach to spring equinox allow for better rejection of erroneous wind vectors, a more objective assessment at any latitude of the quality of the mean zonal wind, and a population of winds comparable in size to that available for the much higher contrast atmosphere of Jupiter. Zonal winds at cloud level changed little between 2005 and 2007 at all latitudes sampled. Upper troposphere zonal winds derived from methane band images are ~10 m/s weaker than cloud level winds in the cores of eastward jets and ~ 5 m/s stronger on either side of the jet core, i.e., eastward jets appear to broaden with increasing altitude. In westward jet regions winds are approximately the same at both altitudes. Lateral eddy momentum fluxes are directed into eastward jet cores, including the strong equatorial jet, and away from westward jet cores and weaken with increasing altitude on the flanks of the eastward jets, consistent with the upward broadening of these jets. The conversion rate of eddy to mean zonal kinetic energy at the visible cloud level is larger in eastward jet regions (5.2×10-5 m2/s3) and smaller in westward jet regions (1.6×10-5 m2/s3) than the global mean value (4.1×10-5 m2/s3). Overall the results are consistent with theories that suggest that the jets and the overturning meridional circulation at cloud level on Saturn are maintained at least in part by eddies due to instabilities of the large-scale flow near and/or below the cloud level.