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On the reflection of Alfvén waves and its implication for Earth's core modeling

Nathanaël Schaeffer 1, * Dominique Jault 1 Philippe Cardin 1 Marie Drouard 1
* Corresponding author
1 Géodynamo [1997-2015]
ISTerre [2011-2015] - Institut des Sciences de la Terre [2011-2015]
Abstract : Alfvén waves propagate in electrically conducting fluids in the presence of a magnetic field. Their reflection properties depend on the ratio between the kinematic viscosity and the magnetic diffusivity of the fluid, also known as the magnetic Prandtl number Pm. In the special case Pm=1, there is no reflection on an insulating, no-slip boundary, and the wave energy is entirely dissipated in the boundary layer. We investigate the consequences of this remarkable behaviour for the numerical modeling of torsional Alfvén waves (also known as torsional oscillations), which represent a special class of Alfvén waves, in rapidly rotating spherical shells. They consist of geostrophic motions and are thought to exist in the fluid cores of planets with internal magnetic field. In the geophysical limit Pm << 1, these waves are reflected at the core equator, where they are entirely absorbed for Pm=1. Our numerical calculations show that the reflection coefficient at the equator of these waves remains below 0.2 for Pm > 0.3, which is the range of values for which geodynamo numerical models operate. As a result, geodynamo models with no-slip boundary conditions cannot exhibit torsional oscillation normal modes.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-00652996
Contributor : Nathanaël Schaeffer <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 1:25:41 AM
Last modification on : Monday, July 20, 2020 - 11:06:14 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, December 15, 2016 - 8:10:13 PM

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Nathanaël Schaeffer, Dominique Jault, Philippe Cardin, Marie Drouard. On the reflection of Alfvén waves and its implication for Earth's core modeling. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2012, 191 (2), p. 508-516. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05611.x⟩. ⟨insu-00652996v3⟩

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