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This is diagram of circulation on the Earth (left), and Uranus (right).

Uranus Meteorology

In general, the weather on earth can be described in the following way: in response to incoming energy from the sun, the air rises at the equator and drifts to the poles where it is colder.

Because Uranus lies on its side, with the north pole facing the sun for half a year, Uranus' weather cannot follow that basic pattern. The air would not rise at the equator because the equator never faces the sun. It would seem, instead, that the air would rise at the north pole and flow to the south pole, where it is colder.

In fact, the weather pattern on Uranus seems to be identical to that of Jupiter and Saturn, namely that the clouds flow in the striped zonal pattern. This would suggest that, for the atmosphere of Uranus, heating the atmosphere from the bottom is more important than warming the atmosphere at the top with sunlight.

Last modified May 7, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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