Equatorial oscillations in the zonal-mean temperatures and zonal winds have been well documented in Earth's middle atmosphere. A growing body of evidence from ground-based and Cassini spacecraft observations indicates that such phenomena also occur in the stratospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. Earth-based midinfrared measurements spanning several decades have established that the equatorial stratospheric temperatures on Jupiter vary with a cycle of 4-5 years and on Saturn with a cycle of approximately 15 years. Spectra obtained by the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) during the Cassini swingby at the end of 2000, with much better vertical resolution than the ground-based data, indicated a series of vertically stacked warm and cold anomalics at Jupiter's equator; a similar structurc was seen at Saturn's equator in CIRS limb measurements made in 2005, in the early phase of Cassini's orbital tour. The thermal wind equation implied similar patterns of mean zonal winds increasing and decreasing with altitude. On Saturn the peak-to-pcak amplitude of this variation was nearly 200 meters per second. The alternating vertical pattern of wanner and colder cquatorial tcmperatures and easterly and westerly tendencies of the zonal winds is seen in Earth's equatorial oscillations, where the pattern descends with time, The Cassini Jupiter and early Saturn observations were snapshots within a limited time interval, and they did not show the temporal evolution of the spatial patterns. However, more recent Saturn observations by CIRS (2010) and Cassini radio-occultation soundings (2009-2010) have provided an opportunity to follow the change of the temperature-zonal wind pattern, and they suggest there is descent, at a rate of roughly one scale height over four years. On Earth, the observed descent in the zonal-mean structure is associated with the absorption of a combination of vertically propagating waves with easlerly and westerly phase velocities. The peak-to-peak zonal wind amplitude in the oscillation pattern and the rate of descent constrain the absorbed wave flux of zonal momentum. On Saturn this is approximately 0.05 square meters per square seconds, which is comparable to if not greater than that associated with the terrestrial oscillations. We discuss possible candidates for the absorbed waves on Saturn. On Earth the wave forcing of the equatorial oscillation generales secondary circulations that can affcct the temperature and wind structure at latitudes well away from the equator, and we discuss possible evidence of that on Saturn.
Meteorology and Climatology
AOGS2011 Asia Oceania Geosciences Society; 8-12 Aug. 2011; Taipei; Taiwan, Province of China