Marine Science Faculty Publications

Universal Spectrum of Two-Dimensional Turbulence on a Rotating Sphere and Some Basic Features of Atmospheric Circulation on Giant Planets

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The Kolmogorov-Batchelor-Kraichnan (KBK) theory of two-dimensional turbulence is generalized for turbulence on the surface of a rotating sphere. The energy spectrum develops considerable anisotropy; a steep −5 slope emerges in the zonal direction, while in all others the classical KBK scaling prevails. This flow regime in robust steady state is reproduced in simulations with linear drag. The conditions favorable for this regime may be common for giant planets’ atmospheric circulations; the same steep spectra are found in their observed zonal velocity profiles and utilized to explain their basic characteristics.

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Physical Review Letters, v. 89, p. issue 12, art. 124501