Saturn’s Great Northern Storm of 2010-2011: from storm clouds to hot vortices


Abstract

  • The massive eruption at 40°N on Saturn in December 2010 has produced significant and lasting effects in the northern hemisphere on temperature and species abundance. When the storm clouds erupted into the troposphere of Saturn they were sheared and over the next 3 months wrapped around the entire planet. This eruption sent waves into the stratosphere, which caused significant heating. In 2011 and 2012 the Cassini spacecraft observed the effects of the storm over many wavelengths on multiple occasions. The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS), on Cassini, "chased" the storm in order to follow the unexpected changes in the normally quiet stratosphere. This talk will discuss the "beacons" in the stratosphere that resulted from the storm, how these beacons changed over time, the changes in the amounts of hydrocarbons, and what effects Cassini was able to "see" in the northern hemisphere long after the storm clouds subsided.