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Magnetic suppression of zonal flows on a beta plane

TitleMagnetic suppression of zonal flows on a beta plane
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsConstantinou N.C, Parker J.B
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Date Published2018/08
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0004-637X
Accession NumberWOS:000441290000002
Keywords2-dimensional turbulence; Astronomy & Astrophysics; atmospheric dynamics; eddy viscosity; fields; instabilities; jets; magnetohydrodynamics (MHD); Rossby; Shear; stress; Sun: interior; Sun: magnetic; tachocline; turbulence; waves

Zonal flows in rotating systems have been previously shown to be suppressed by the imposition of a background magnetic field aligned with the direction of rotation. Understanding the physics behind the suppression may be important in systems found in astrophysical fluid dynamics, such as stellar interiors. However, the mechanism of suppression has not yet been explained. In the idealized setting of a magnetized beta plane, we provide a theoretical explanation that shows how magnetic fluctuations directly counteract the growth of weak zonal flows. Two distinct calculations yield consistent conclusions. The first, which is simpler and more physically transparent, extends the Kelvin-Orr shearing wave to include magnetic fields and shows that a weak, long-wavelength shear flow organizes magnetic fluctuations to absorb energy from the mean flow. The second calculation, based on the quasilinear, statistical CE2 framework, is valid for arbitrary wavelength zonal flow and predicts a self-consistent growth rate of the zonal flow. We find that a background magnetic field suppresses zonal flow if the bare Alfven frequency is comparable to or larger than the bare Rossby frequency. However, suppression can occur for even smaller magnetic fields if the resistivity is sufficiently small enough to allow sizable magnetic fluctuations. Our calculations reproduce the eta/B-0(2) = const. scaling that describes the boundary of zonation, as found in previous work, and we explicitly link this scaling to the amplitude of magnetic fluctuations.

Short TitleAstrophys. J.
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