Dynamical Consequences of Orthohydrogen-Parahydrogen Disequilibrium on Jupiter and Saturn

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Science  18 Feb 1983:
Vol. 219, Issue 4586, pp. 847-849
DOI: 10.1126/science.219.4586.847


The Voyager observation of high zonal flow speeds (about 400 meters per second) in the atmosphere of Saturn has raised fundamental questions about the flow on both Jupiter and Saturn. One possibility is that the flow is extremely deep, perhaps extending through the planet. Another is that the flow is confined near the cloud tops and is associated with very strong buoyancy contrasts. It is demonstrated that the heat of conversion from parahydrogen to orthohydrogen can provide buoyancy contrasts of the required magnitude, and a feedback mechanism is proposed to couple the heat of conversion to the flow dynamics.