5.4 Conclusions

In the previous paragraphs, we have reviewed the current state of affairs on the theoretical understanding of supergranulation. As cautioned already in the introduction, a breadth of simple models and ideas has been suggested over the years, but the theoretical landscape is extremely fuzzy. A shared property of all models is the looseness of the approximations on which they rely (e.g., linear theory with turbulent viscosity parametrisation, or hand-waving physical arguments on the nature of dynamical interactions between granules and their potential large-scale instabilities). Consequently, completely distinct theoretical arguments can easily be tuned to produce results that are all broadly consistent with observations. This degeneracy makes it impossible to discriminate between the various scenarios.

This issue is of course not specific to the supergranulation problem. The theoretical approach to the global solar dynamo, for instance, is more or less affected by the same syndrome. Escaping this difficult situation probably requires a significant improvement of the numerical modelling of supergranulation-scale convection. The status of this specific field is reviewed in detail in the next section.


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