Baroclinic instability in the Venus atmosphere simulated by GCM

Norihiko Sugimoto, Masahiro Takagi, Yoshihisa Matsuda

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Baroclinic instability in the super-rotation of Venus is investigated by a newly developed atmospheric general circulation model. First, we adopt an idealized super-rotation, i.e., solid-body rotating flow in a weakly stratified layer at cloud level, as an initial basic state in a nominal case. With the evolution of time, baroclinic instability occurs in a weakly stratified layer with large vertical shear of the basic zonal flow. Horizontal wind associated with the baroclinic instability modes is of a few ms-1. The initial structure of the unstable modes is similar to those obtained in previous linear stability analyses. However, it is modified by nonlinear interactions in the later stage, reaching a quasi-steady state. Meridional transport of momentum and heat by these unstable modes accelerates the super-rotation by ~ 0.05ms-1day-1 at midlatitudes. Furthermore, the dependence of baroclinic instability on the basic state, i.e., the meridional profiles of zonal flow and the vertical profiles of static stability, are subsequently investigated. For the super-rotation with midlatitude jets at cloud level, the modes are modified from baroclinic to barotropic in the later stage. Typically, their horizontal wind is of O(10) m s-1. Their amplitude is maintained by energy conversion from zonal-mean available potential energy associated with the baroclinic basic state. In the case where static stability is smaller than that in the nominal case, the baroclinic modes transfer angular momentum from midlatitude to the equator near a 70km level and accelerate the super-rotation by more than 10ms-1 in the equatorial region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1950-1968
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Aug


  • GCM
  • Venus atmosphere
  • baroclinic instability
  • super-rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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