What is it about?
Tidally locked exoplanets have a permanent day side and night side. Understanding the atmospheric circulation on these planets is crucial for interpreting telescope observations and assessing their habitability. We show that the main components of the circulation—a jet going around the planet, stationary atmospheric waves, and direct flow from the day side to the night side—can be separated using a simple mathematical decomposition.
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
Why is it important?
The technique we present in this paper will significantly aid future study of tidally locked atmospheres. As an illustration, we use it to quantify heat transport due to different components of the circulation. This analysis reveals that the direct day–night component can dominate heat transport from the day side to the night side, even when the jet is strong.
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This page is a summary of: The rotational and divergent components of atmospheric circulation on tidally locked planets, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2022705118.
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