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A multiscale dynamo model driven by quasi-geostrophic convection


A convection-driven multiscale dynamo model is developed in the limit of low Rossby number for the plane layer geometry in which the gravity and rotation vectors are aligned. The small-scale fluctuating dynamics are described by a magnetically modified quasi-geostrophic equation set, and the large-scale mean dynamics are governed by a diagnostic thermal wind balance. The model utilizes three time scales that respectively characterize the convective time scale, the large-scale magnetic evolution time scale and the large-scale thermal evolution time scale. Distinct equations are derived for the cases of order one and low magnetic Prandtl number. It is shown that the low magnetic Prandtl number model is characterized by a magnetic to kinetic energy ratio that is asymptotically large, with ohmic dissipation dominating viscous dissipation on the large scale. For the order one magnetic Prandtl number model, the magnetic and kinetic energies are equipartitioned and both ohmic and viscous dissipation are weak on the large scales; large-scale ohmic dissipation occurs in thin magnetic boundary layers adjacent to the horizontal boundaries. For both magnetic Prandtl number cases the Elsasser number is small since the Lorentz force does not enter the leading order force balance. The new models can be considered fully nonlinear, generalized versions of the dynamo model originally developed by Childress & Soward (Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 29, 1972, pp. 837-839), and provide a new theoretical framework for understanding the dynamics of convection-driven dynamos in regimes that are only just becoming accessible to direct numerical simulations.

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