Discussion: Everyday, Earth experiences storms, whether it is in the form of thunderstorms, hurricanes, or blizzards. It is known that other planets in the solar system experience storms, albeit slightly different from those that occur on Earth. We have already discussed Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and Saturn’s Hexagon, now we will turn our attention to Venus and the mystery storm at its South Pole.
Venus, the second planet from the Sun, is known for being the hottest planet (with an average measured temperature of over 900°F) due its atmosphere’s high carbon dioxide content creating a greenhouse effect far more intense than the greenhouse effect associated with Earth. What people might not know is that Venus has a cyclone-like storm the size of Europe located at its South Pole, and it is unusual due to the fact that the storm has two vortices, thus giving it a “double eye”. Even more unusual, the two centers of rotation are at two different altitudes and rarely ever line up. On top of that, this storm is in a state of constant flux, with parts of the storm breaking apart and reforming, causing the storm to change shape every day or so. Thus, the storm is never destroyed, making it a storm in a state of constant evolution, or basically, “immortal”. As for the cause of the storm’s constant evolution, that remains a mystery.
This constantly evolving storm is believed to be a permanent structure in Venus’s atmosphere. Long-lived storms are common on planets with fast-moving atmospheres, like Venus, whose atmosphere rotates 60 times faster than Venus itself. The fast rotation of the atmosphere is unusual, as Venus rotates very slowly, taking 243 Earth days to rotate just once as compared to Venus’s atmosphere which takes only 4 Earth days to rotate once. The cause of this incredibly fast rotation is unknown, but it is the cause of the vortices at both the North and South poles, although the North Pole vortex hasn’t been studied as extensively.
In addition, it is interesting to note that Venus experiences lightning in its atmosphere, analogous to lightning experienced on Earth. Unlike lightning observed on Earth, which emanates from water-based clouds, Venus’s lightning comes from clouds composed of sulfuric acid and travels slower than lightning on Earth. If a person were observing this storm from Venus’s surface, they would constantly see whirling clouds, but would experience no precipitation. This is because the storm is 26 miles above the surface and precipitation on Venus evaporates 22 miles above the surface. In addition, a person observing the storm from the surface would experience little to no wind. In summary, while the storm violently rages within in the middle-to-upper atmosphere, an observer on the surface of Venus would experience virtually nothing.
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@Meteorologist Noah Hardy