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Journal Articles Geophysical Journal International Year : 2022

A taxonomy of simulated geomagnetic jerks


Geomagnetic jerks—abrupt changes in the acceleration of Earth’s magnetic field that punctuate geomagnetic records— have been richly documented over the past decades by taking advantage of the complementary strengths of ground observatory and satellite measurements. It has recently been proposed that these events originate from the interplay and timescale separation between slow convection and rapid hydromagnetic wave propagation in Earth’s outer core, with these latter waves playing a key role in the generation of jerk signals. To assess the generality of this explanation, here we analyse a catalogue of 14 events obtained during a 14 000-yr-long temporal sequence from a numerical geodynamo simulation that is the closest to date to Earth’s core conditions regarding timescale separation. Events are classified according to their dynamic origin and the depth at which they are triggered in the outer core. The majority of jerk events are found to arise from intermittent local disruptions of the leading-order force balance between the pressure, Coriolis, buoyancy and Lorentz forces (the QG-MAC balance), that leads to an inertial compensation through the emission of rapid, non-axisymmetric, quasi-geostrophic Alfvén waves from the region where this force balance is disrupted. Jerk events of moderate strength arise from the arrival at low latitudes at the core surface of hydromagnetic wave packets emitted from convective plumes rooted at the inner core boundary. As in an earlier simulation, these account well for jerk features that have recently been documented by satellite and ground observations. The more realistic timescales in the simulation reported here allow further details to be distinguished, such as multiple temporal alternations of geomagnetic acceleration pulses at low latitudes, long-range synchronization of pulse foci in space and rapid longitudinal drift of these foci at the core surface. The strongest events in the catalogue arise from disruption of the leading-order force balance near or at the core surface, from the combined influence of the arrival of buoyancy plumes and magnetic field rearrangement. The hydromagnetic waves that are sent laterally and downwards generate signals that clearly illustrate the presence of nearly synchronous ‘V-shaped’ magnetic variation patterns over a wide portion of Earth’s surface and also at mid to high latitudes, despite the source being confined to low latitudes at the core surface. Other well-known characteristics of strong geomagnetic jerks such as surges in the intensity of the secular variation and inflexions in the length-of-day variations are also reproduced in these events. Irrespectively of the event strength, our results support the hypothesis of a single physical root cause—the emission of magneto-inertial waves following a disruption of the QG-MAC balance—for jerks observed throughout the geomagnetic record.
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hal-03719369 , version 1 (11-07-2022)



Julien Aubert, Philip W Livermore, Christopher C Finlay, Alexandre Fournier, Nicolas Gillet. A taxonomy of simulated geomagnetic jerks. Geophysical Journal International, 2022, 231 (1), pp.650-672. ⟨10.1093/gji/ggac212⟩. ⟨hal-03719369⟩
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