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Journal Article

Internally driven inertial waves in geodynamo simulations


Christensen,  Ulrich R.
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;


Wicht,  Johannes
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Ranjan, A., Davidson, P. A., Christensen, U. R., & Wicht, J. (2018). Internally driven inertial waves in geodynamo simulations. Geophysical journal international, 213(2), 1281-1295. doi:10.1093/gji/ggy046.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-81B6-D
Inertial waves are oscillations in a rotating fluid, such as the Earth’s outer core, which result from the restoring action of the Coriolis force. In an earlier work, it was argued by Davidson that inertial waves launched near the equatorial regions could be important for the α2 dynamo mechanism, as they can maintain a helicity distribution which is negative (positive) in the north (south). Here, we identify such internally driven inertial waves, triggered by buoyant anomalies in the equatorial regions in a strongly forced geodynamo simulation. Using the time derivative of vertical velocity, ∂uz/∂t, as a diagnostic for traveling wave fronts, we find that the horizontal movement in the buoyancy field near the equator is well correlated with a corresponding movement of the fluid far from the equator. Moreover, the azimuthally averaged spectrum of ∂uz/∂t lies in the inertial wave frequency range. We also test the dispersion properties of the waves by computing the spectral energy as a function of frequency, ϖ, and the dispersion angle, θ. Our results suggest that the columnar flow in the rotation-dominated core, which is an important ingredient for the maintenance of a dipolar magnetic field, is maintained despite the chaotic evolution of the buoyancy field on a fast timescale by internally driven inertial waves.