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This is an image of Uranus' atmosphere.
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NASA

An Overview of Motions in Uranus' Atmosphere

Motions of air in the atmosphere include wind. The major winds in the Uranian atmosphere are zonal winds, which have zones blowing west and belts flowing east.

Motion of air in the atmosphere can also happen by diffusion. There is a continual circulation within the atmosphere from the top to the bottom. Ethane moves down through the atmosphere and collects at the bottom where it breaks apart and becomes methane. The methane returns to the top of the atmosphere and is transformed into methane again. This perpetual breakdown and assembly of methane and ethane is part of the development of Uranus and affects its weather.


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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

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Altitude Changes in the Belts & Zones

On Uranus, as on Jupiter, the winds in the belts and zones blow first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. Wind blows east in a belt, and west in a zone. The clouds rise up in a belt, and...more

Diffusion

Diffusion means the slow motion of molecules from one place to another. As solid as a pane of glass can seem, molecules of air can easily pass through the glass. This can readily be noticed on a cold winter...more

Uranus Weather

The weather on earth can be described this way: air rises at the equator, where it is warm, and moves to the poles where it is colder and the air sinks. Because Uranus lies on its side, with the north...more

Uranus' Smog

Besides methane, Uranus' atmosphere contains even more complex molecules such as ethane gas. (These gases are similar to the exhaust gases that come out of cars on earth). These molecules form layers of...more

Uranus' Mesosphere

The mesosphere of Uranus is a region of balance between warming and cooling. That essentially means that nothing happens there. Except for diffusion, the atmosphere is still. Upper reaches of the atmosphere,...more

An Overview of Uranus' Atmospheric Structure

As on Earth, the atmosphere of Uranus consists of a troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. The troposphere is the region where the visible clouds are to be found. The stratosphere, as...more

Why Uranus looks like a "bullseye"

The clouds on Uranus, like Jupiter, are divided into belts and zones. On Uranus the belts and zones are hard to find. The left picture shows the north pole of Uranus. In this picture only the smog of...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA