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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The role of aqueous chemistry in determining the composition and cloud structure of the upper troposphere on Uranus

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Aqueous chemistry on Uranus affects the atmospheric abundances of NH3 and H2S below the methane cloud base. Here a complete thermochemical equilibrium model for the H2O-NH3-H2S system is presented. Inclusion of H2S increases the aqueous removal of NH3 to 20-30 percent, but aqueous chemistry alone cannot account for the depletion of NH3 in the 150-200-K region of the atmosphere required to fit microwave observations. Formation of NH4SH clouds can account for the observed depletion provided the H2S/NH3 ratio is enhanced by a factor of 4 relative to solar. Perturbations to the chemical balance between N and S, for example by the general circulation on Uranus, would then produce regions with either NH3 or H2S aloft.

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