Scale separated low viscosity dynamos and dissipation within the Earth's core

Andrey Sheyko, Christopher Finlay, Jean Favre, Andrew Jackson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The mechanism by which the Earth's magnetic field is generated is thought to be thermal convection in the metallic liquid iron core. Here we present results of a suite of self-consistent spherical shell computations with ultra-low viscosities that replicate this mechanism, but using diffusivities of momentum and magnetic field that are notably dissimilar from one another. This leads to significant scale separation between magnetic and velocity fields, the latter being dominated by small scales. We show a zeroth order balance between the azimuthally-averaged parts of the Coriolis and Lorentz forces at large scales, which occurs when the diffusivities of magnetic field and momentum differ so much, as in our model. Outside boundary layers, viscous forces have a magnitude that is about one thousandth of the Lorentz force. In this dynamo dissipation is almost exclusively Ohmic, as in the Earth, with convection inside the so-called tangent cylinder playing a crucial role; it is also in the "strong field" regime, with significantly more magnetic energy than kinetic energy (as in the Earth). We finally show a robust empirical scaling law between magnetic dissipation and magnetic energy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12566
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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