Quasi-geostrophic convection-driven dynamos in a thick spherical shell

O. Barrois, T. Gastine, C. C. Finlay

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We present dynamos computed using a hybrid QG-3D numerical scheme in a thick spherical shell geometry. Our model is based on a quasi-geostrophic convection code extended with a 3-D treatment of heat transport and magnetic induction. We find a collection of self-sustained, multipolar, weak field dynamos with magnetic energy one or two orders of magnitude lower than the kinetic energy. The poloidal magnetic energy is weak and, by construction, there is a lack of equatorially antisymmetric components in the Buoyancy and Lorentz forces. This leads to configurations where the velocity field is only weakly impacted by the magnetic field, similar to dynamos found in 3-D simulations where zonal flows and the Ω-effect dominate. The time-dependence of these dynamos is characterized by quasi-periodic oscillations that we attribute to dynamo waves. The QG-3D dynamos found so far are not Earth-like. The inability of our setup to produce strong, dipole-dominated, magnetic fields likely points to a missing ingredient in our QG flows, and a related lack of helicity and α-effect. The models presented here may be more relevant for studying stellar dynamos where zonal flows are known to dominate. This study was carried out at modest control parameters, however moving to lower Ekman numbers, when smaller values of both the magnetic and hydrodynamic Prandtl numbers can be of interest, our approach will be able to gain in efficiency by using relatively coarse grids for the 3-D magnetic and temperature fields and a finer grid for the QG velocity field.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Pages (from-to)1373–1389
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Dynamo: theories and simulations
  • Numerical modelling
  • Earth core


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