Saturation and time dependence of geodynamo models

Schrinner, M.
Schmitt, D.
Cameron, R.
Hoyng, P.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
In this study we address the question under which conditions a saturated velocity field stemming from geodynamo simulations leads to an exponential growth of the magnetic field in a corresponding kinematic calculation. We perform global self-consistent geodynamo simulations and calculate the evolution of a kinematically advanced tracer field. The self-consistent velocity field enters the induction equation in each time step, but the tracer field does not contribute to the Lorentz force. This experiment has been performed by Cattaneo & Tobias (2009) and is closely related to the test field method by Schrinner et al. (2005, 2007). We find two dynamo regimes in which the tracer field either grows exponentially or approaches a state aligned with the actual self-consistent magnetic field after an initial transition period. Both regimes can be distinguished by the Rossby number and coincide with the dipolar and multipolar dynamo regimes identified by Christensen & Aubert (2006). Dipolar dynamos with low Rossby number are kinematically stable whereas the tracer field grows exponentially in the multipolar dynamo regime. This difference in the saturation process for dynamos in both regimes comes along with differences in their time variability. Within our sample of 20 models, solely kinematically unstable dynamos show dipole reversals and large excursions. The complicated time behaviour of these dynamos presumably relates to the alternating growth of several competing dynamo modes. On the other hand, dynamos in the low Rossby number regime exhibit a rather simple time dependence and their saturation merely results in a fluctuation of the fundamental dynamo mode about its critical state.
Comment: 6 pages, 8 figures
Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics