Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Nonlinear dynamo action in rotating convection and shear

a1 Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QE, UK

Article author query
zhang p   [Google Scholar] 
gilbert ad   [Google Scholar] 
zhang k   [Google Scholar] 


Magnetic field amplification by the motion of an electrically conducting fluid is studied, using a rotating plane-layer geometry. The fluid flow is driven by convection, and by a moving bottom boundary, which leads to an Ekman layer localized at the base of the system. The system thus has the structure of an interface dynamo, with convection lying over a thin layer of shear.

The combination of shear in the Ekman layer and convection above leads to amplification of seed magnetic fields. In kinematic regimes the magnetic field is mostly localized in sheets in the shear layer, but thin tongues are pulled out by the convection above and folded. The nonlinear saturation of these growing fields is studied at moderately high values of magnetic Reynolds number and Taylor number. It is found that the sheets of field tend to gain fine-scale structure when the dynamo saturates, breaking up into tubes, and the fluid flow shows complex time-dependence. Although the magnetic field lies predominantly within the highly sheared Ekman layer, this flow remains remarkably unchanged despite the action of Lorentz forces. Instead, the effect of the field is to suppress or modify the convection above. A simple alpha-omega dynamo model is set up, and gives some insights into the dynamo processes occurring in the full magnetohydrodynamic simulation.

(Published Online December 21 2005)
(Received August 24 2004)
(Revised June 16 2005)