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Planets are complex systems, and the thermal structure of a planet’s atmosphere is determined by interactions between a number of physical processes (e.g., radiative transfer, convection, advection).  To date, though, even the best observations of exoplanets have only yielded a handful of spectral data points for a small handful of objects.  The implication is that complex models of exoplanet atmospheric circulation and thermal structure are extremely under-constrained when used to interpret these sparse observations.  To help enable the interpretation of exoplanet observations, I developed the simplest possible atmospheric thermal structure model that is both general and realistic (Robinson & Catling 2012).  Using only a small handful of parameters (6-10), this analytic model generates a one-dimensional average temperature-pressure profile for a planetary atmosphere in radiative-convective equilibrium.

An implementation of the analytic model can be found here.  There are three pieces of code: (1) is the workhorse which solves for the radiative-convective boundary when given the appropriate input, (2) demonstrates a use of to generate a pressure-temperature profile for Titan, and (3) is similar to the other example, but adds the calculation of the relevant fluxes.  The headers contain more info, and EXAMPLE_W_FLUXES uses a piece of IDL code called  Please let me know if you run into any problems when using, if you find any bugs, or make any cool improvements.  Also, please cite the aforementioned paper if you use this tool in your own work.

Example outputs from the analytic radiative-convective model as applied to Titan. Top-left shows a pressure-temperature profile, top-right shows a profile of net solar flux, bottom-left shows profiles of upwelling (right) and downwelling (left) thermal flux, and bottom-left shows a profile of convective flux (note the different vertical-axis scale).