Mechanics of inner core super‐rotation
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1029/96gl03258
A mechanism is proposed to explain the seismologically-inferred prograde rotation of the Earth's solid inner core in terms of the structure of convection in the fluid outer core. Numerical calculations of convection and dynamo action in the outer core exhibit excess temperatures inside the tangent cylinder surrounding the inner core. We show that this temperature difference generates a prograde thermal wind and a strong azimuthal magnetic field inside the tangent cylinder. Electromagnetic torques on the inner core derived from induced azimuthal magnetic fields and the ambient poloidal field equilibrate when the inner core angular velocity lags the nearby tangent cylinder fluid angular velocity by approximately 14%. The inferred prograde rotation of the inner core (1.1-3°/year relative to the mantle) can be produced by a very small (≃ 0.001 K) temperature anomaly within the tangent cylinder and indicates strong toroidal magnetic fields with peak intensities of 24-66 mT in that region of the core. Copyright 1996 by the American Geophysical Union.