Vertical Tracer Mixing in Hot Jupiter Atmospheres

Thaddeus D. Komacek, Adam P. Showman, Vivien Parmentier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Aerosols appear to be ubiquitous in close-in gas giant atmospheres, and disequilibrium chemistry likely impacts the emergent spectra of these planets. Lofted aerosols and disequilibrium chemistry are caused by vigorous vertical transport in these heavily irradiated atmospheres. Here we numerically and analytically investigate how vertical transport should change over the parameter space of spin-synchronized gas giants. In order to understand how tracer transport depends on planetary parameters, we develop an analytic theory to predict vertical velocities and mixing rates (K zz) and compare the results to our numerical experiments. We find that both our theory and numerical simulations predict that if the vertical mixing rate is described by an eddy diffusivity, then this eddy diffusivity K zz should increase with increasing equilibrium temperature, decreasing frictional drag strength, and increasing chemical loss timescales. We find that the transition in our numerical simulations between circulation dominated by a superrotating jet and that with solely day-to-night flow causes a marked change in the vertical velocity structure and tracer distribution. The mixing ratio of passive tracers is greatest for intermediate drag strengths that correspond to this transition between a superrotating jet with columnar vertical velocity structure and day-to-night flow with upwelling on the dayside and downwelling on the nightside. Finally, we present analytic solutions for K zz as a function of planetary effective temperature, chemical loss timescales, and other parameters, for use as input to 1D chemistry models of spin-synchronized gas giant atmospheres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 20 2019


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Vertical Tracer Mixing in Hot Jupiter Atmospheres'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this