Statistical equilibrium predictions of jets and spots on Jupiter

Bruce Turkington, Andrew Majda, Kyle Haven, Mark DiBattista

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An equilibrium statistical theory of coherent structures is applied to midlatitude bands in the northern and southern hemispheres of Jupiter. The theory imposes energy and circulation constraints on the large-scale motion and uses a prior distribution on potential vorticity fluctuations to parameterize the small-scale turbulent eddies. Nonlinearly stable coherent structures are computed by solving the constrained maximum entropy principle governing the equilibrium states of the statistical theory. The theoretical predictions are consistent with the observed large-scale features of the weather layer if and only if the prior distribution has anticyclonic skewness, meaning that intense anticyclones predominate at small scales. Then the computations show that anticyclonic vortices emerge at the latitudes of the Great Red Spot and the White Ovals in the southern band, whereas in the northern band no vortices form within the zonal jets. Recent observational data from the Galileo mission support the occurrence of intense small-scale anticyclonic forcing. The results suggest the possibility of using equilibrium statistical theory for inverse modeling of the small-scale characteristics of the Jovian atmosphere from observed features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12346-12350
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - Oct 23 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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