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Ensemble inversion of time-dependent core flow models

Authors: N. Gillet, M.A. Pais, D. Jault

Ref.: Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 10 (2009)

Abstract: Quasi-geostrophic core flow models are built from two secular variation models spanning the periods 1960–2002 and 1997–2008. We rely on an ensemble method to account for the contributions of the unresolved small-scale magnetic field interacting with core surface flows to the observed magnetic field changes. The different core flow members of the ensemble solution agree up to spherical harmonic degree ℓ ≃ 10, and this resolved component varies only weakly with regularization. Taking into account the finite correlation time of the small-scale concealed magnetic field, we find that the time variations of the magnetic field occurring over short time scales, such as the geomagnetic jerks, can be accounted for by the resolved (large-scale) part of the flow to a large extent. Residuals from our flow models are 30% smaller for recent epochs, after 1995. This result is attributed to an improvement in the quality of geomagnetic data. The magnetic field models show little frozen flux violation for the most recent epochs, within our estimate of the apparent magnetic flux changes at the core-mantle boundary arising from spatial resolution errors. We associate the more important flux changes detected at earlier epochs with uncertainties in the field models at large harmonic degrees. Our core flow models show, at all epochs, an eccentric and planetary-scale anticyclonic gyre circling around the cylindrical surface tangent to the inner core, at approximately 30 and 60 latitude under the Indian and Pacific oceans, respectively. They account well for the changes in core angular momentum for the most recent epochs.

DOI: 10.1029/2008GC002290