Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) in Europa?

This article appeared in Nature Geoscience in 2014 used a numerical model to hypothesize that a meridional overturning circulation (MOC) exists in the ocean beneath the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The geothermal heat generated from tidal flexing drives Europa’s MOC, which carries heat toward the surface in the low latitudes then poleward. This study suggests that the upward heat carried by Europa’s MOC melts the ice shell near the equator creating regions of disrupted ice known as chaos terrains.

Soderlund, K. M., B. E. Schmidt, J. Wicht and D. D. Blankenship (2014), Ocean-driven heating of Europa’s icy shell at low latitudes, Nat. Geosci., 7, 16–19, doi:10.1038/ngeo2021.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ SETI Institute

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