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Variability modes in core flows inverted from geomagnetic field models


We use flows that we invert from two geomagnetic field models spanning centennial time periods (gufm1 and COV-OBS), and apply Principal Component Analysis and Singular Value Decomposition of coupled fields to extract the main modes characterizing their spatial and temporal variations. The quasi geostrophic flows inverted from both geomagnetic field models show similar features. However, COV-OBS has a less energetic mean flow and larger time variability. The statistical significance of flow components is tested from analyses performed on subareas of the whole domain. Bootstrapping methods are also used to extract robust flow features required by both gufm1 and COV-OBS. Three main empirical circulation modes emerge, simultaneously constrained by both geomagnetic field models and expected to be robust against the particular a priori used to build them. Mode 1 exhibits three large robust vortices at medium/high latitudes, with opposite circulation under the Atlantic and the Pacific hemispheres. Mode 2 interestingly accounts for most of the variations of the Earth's core angular momentum. In this mode, the regions close to the tangent cylinder and to the equator are correlated, and oscillate with a period between 80 and 90 years. Each of these two modes is energetic enough to alter the mean flow, sometimes reinforcing the eccentric gyre, and other times breaking it up into smaller circulations. Mode 3 shows more distinct spatial and temporal signatures in the two inverted flows, preventing the emergence of significant spatial features. The three main circulation modes added together to the mean flow account for about 70% of the flows variability, 90% of the root mean square total velocities, and 95% of the secular variation induced by the total flows. Direct physical interpretation of the computed modes is not straightforward. Nonetheless, similarities found between the two first modes and time/spatial features identified in different studies of core dynamics, suggest that our approach can help to pinpoint the relevant physical processes inside the core on centennial timescales.
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Dates and versions

insu-01009677 , version 1 (18-06-2014)
insu-01009677 , version 2 (26-11-2014)



Maria A. Pais, Anna L. Morozova, Nathanaël Schaeffer. Variability modes in core flows inverted from geomagnetic field models. 2014. ⟨insu-01009677v1⟩
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