Universal [formula omitted] spectrum of zonal flows on giant planets

Boris Galperin, Semion Sukoriansky, Huei Ping Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The energy spectra of the observed zonal flows on Jupiter and Saturn are shown to obey the scaling law [formula omitted] in the range of total wave numbers n not affected by large scale friction (here, [formula omitted] and R are the rotation rate and the radius of the planet, and [formula omitted] is an order-one constant). These spectra broadly resemble their counterpart in recent simulations of turbulent flows on the surface of a rotating sphere [Huang et al., Phys. Fluids 13, 225 (2001)] that represents a strongly anisotropic flow regime evoked by the planetary vorticity gradient. It is conjectured that this regime governs the large scale circulations and the multiple zonal jets on giant planets. The observed strong equatorial jets that were not produced in the nearly inviscid simulations by Huang et al. are attributed to the combined effect of the energy condensation in the lowest zonal modes and the large scale friction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545-1548
Number of pages4
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Universal [formula omitted] spectrum of zonal flows on giant planets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this