Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bands of Atmosphere

The atmospheric bands that are Jupiter’s most striking feature are the result of convective motion and zonal wind patterns. Warm gases rise, while cooler gases sink. The location of particular bands appear to be associated with the wind speed on Jupiter at various latitudes.
Anyone who watches an earthly television weather forecast is familiar with high-pressure and lowpressure areas. Air masses move from high pressure regions to low pressure regions. But we never see these regions on the earth as regular zones or bands that circle the planet. That’s because the earth doesn’t rotate nearly as fast as Jupiter. The rapid rotation of the giant planet spreads the regions of high and low pressure out over the entire planet.

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