Global-mean Vertical Tracer Mixing in Planetary Atmospheres. II. Tidally Locked Planets

Xi Zhang, Adam P. Showman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


In Zhang & Showman, we developed an analytical theory of 1D eddy diffusivity K zz for global-mean vertical tracer transport in a 3D atmosphere. We also presented 2D numerical simulations on fast-rotating planets to validate our theory. On a slowly rotating planet such as Venus or a tidally locked planet (not necessarily a slow-rotator) such as a hot Jupiter, the tracer distribution could exhibit significant longitudinal inhomogeneity and tracer transport is intrinsically 3D. Here we study the global-mean vertical tracer transport on tidally locked planets using 3D tracer-transport simulations. We find that our analytical K zz theory in Zhang & Showman is validated on tidally locked planets over a wide parameter space. K zz strongly depends on the large-scale circulation strength, horizontal mixing due to eddies, and waves, and local tracer sources and sinks due to chemistry and microphysics. As our analytical theory predicted, K zz on tidally locked planets also exhibit three regimes. In Regime I where the chemical and microphysical processes are uniformly distributed across the globe, different chemical species should be transported via different eddy diffusivity. In Regime II where the chemical and microphysical processes are nonuniform - for example, photochemistry or cloud formation that exhibits strong day-night contrast - the global-mean vertical tracer mixing does not always behave diffusively. In the third regime where the tracer is long-lived, non-diffusive effects are significant. Using species-dependent eddy diffusivity, we provide a new analytical theory of the dynamical quench points for disequilibrium tracers on tidally locked planets from first principles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 10 2018


  • astrochemistry
  • hydrodynamics
  • methods: analytical
  • methods: numerical
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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