L. Cottereau, N. Rambaux, S. Lebonnois, and J. Souchay. The various contributions in Venus rotation rate and LOD. Astronomy Astrophysics, 531:A45, 2011. [ bib | DOI | arXiv | PDF version | ADS link ]
Context. Thanks to the Venus Express Mission, new data on the properties of Venus could be obtained, in particular concerning its rotation. <BR /> Aims: In view of these upcoming results, the purpose of this paper is to determine and compare the major physical processes influencing the rotation of Venus and, more particularly, the angular rotation rate. <BR /> Methods: Applying models already used for Earth, the effect of the triaxiality of a rigid Venus on its period of rotation are computed. Then the variations of Venus rotation caused by the elasticity, the atmosphere, and the core of the planet are evaluated. <BR /> Results: Although the largest irregularities in the rotation rate of the Earth on short time scales are caused by its atmosphere and elastic deformations, we show that the irregularities for Venus are dominated by the tidal torque exerted by the Sun on its solid body. Indeed, as Venus has a slow rotation, these effects have a large amplitude of two minutes of time (mn). These variations in the rotation rate are greater than the one induced by atmospheric wind variations that can reach 25-50 s of time (s), depending on the simulation used. The variations due to the core effects that vary with its size between 3 and 20 s are smaller. Compared to these effects, the influence of the elastic deformation caused by the zonal tidal potential is negligible. <BR /> Conclusions: As the variations in the rotation of Venus reported here are close to 3 mn peak to peak, they should influence past, present, and future observations, thereby providing further constraints on the planet's internal structure and atmosphere.
H. F. Parish, G. Schubert, C. Covey, R. L. Walterscheid, A. Grossman, and S. Lebonnois. Decadal variations in a Venus general circulation model. Icarus, 212:42-65, 2011. [ bib | DOI | PDF version | ADS link ]
The Community Atmosphere Model (CAM), a 3-dimensional Earth-based climate model, has been modified to simulate the dynamics of the Venus atmosphere. The most current finite volume version of CAM is used with Earth-related processes removed, parameters appropriate for Venus introduced, and some basic physics approximations adopted. A simplified Newtonian cooling approximation has been used for the radiation scheme. We use a high resolution (1deg by 1deg in latitude and longitude) to take account of small-scale dynamical processes that might be important on Venus. A Rayleigh friction approach is used at the lower boundary to represent surface drag, and a similar approach is implemented in the uppermost few model levels providing a 'sponge layer' to prevent wave reflection from the upper boundary. The simulations generate superrotation with wind velocities comparable to those measured in the Venus atmosphere by probes and around 50-60% of those measured by cloud tracking. At cloud heights and above the atmosphere is always superrotating with mid-latitude zonal jets that wax and wane on an approximate 10 year cycle. However, below the clouds, the zonal winds vary periodically on a decadal timescale between superrotation and subrotation. Both subrotating and superrotating mid-latitude jets are found in the approximate 40-60 km altitude range. The growth and decay of the sub-cloud level jets also occur on the decadal timescale. Though subrotating zonal winds are found below the clouds, the total angular momentum of the atmosphere is always in the sense of superrotation. The global relative angular momentum of the atmosphere oscillates with an amplitude of about 5% on the approximate 10 year timescale. Symmetric instability in the near surface equatorial atmosphere might be the source of the decadal oscillation in the atmospheric state. Analyses of angular momentum transport show that all the jets are built up by poleward transport by a meridional circulation while angular momentum is redistributed to lower latitudes primarily by transient eddies. Possible changes in the structure of Venus' cloud level mid-latitude jets measured by Mariner 10, Pioneer Venus, and Venus Express suggest that a cyclic variation similar to that found in the model might occur in the real Venus atmosphere, although no subrotating winds below the cloud level have been observed to date. Venus' atmosphere must be observed over multi-year timescales and below the clouds if we are to understand its dynamics.