Large-Scale Dynamics of the Convection Zone and Tachocline

Mark S. Miesch
High Altitude Observatory
National Center for Atmospheric Research
3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO 80301

External Link


The past few decades have seen dramatic progress in our understanding of solar interior dynamics, prompted by the relatively new science of helioseismology and increasingly sophisticated numerical models. As the ultimate driver of solar variability and space weather, global-scale convective motions are of particular interest from a practical as well as a theoretical perspective. Turbulent convection under the influence of rotation and stratification redistributes momentum and energy, generating differential rotation, meridional circulation, and magnetic fields through hydromagnetic dynamo processes. In the solar tachocline near the base of the convection zone, strong angular velocity shear further amplifies fields which subsequently rise to the surface to form active regions. Penetrative convection, instabilities, stratified turbulence, and waves all add to the dynamical richness of the tachocline region and pose particular modeling challenges. In this article we review observational, theoretical, and computational investigations of global-scale dynamics in the solar interior. Particular emphasis is placed on high-resolution global simulations of solar convection, highlighting what we have learned from them and how they may be improved.

Go to first Section