The universal response of fluid interiors to end‐member models of mechanical forcing
Abstract:Turbulence generated in electrically conductive liquid interiors of planetary bodies may be due, in part, to mechanical forcing through geophysically relevant mechanisms of precession/nutation, librations, tidal forcing, and collisions. Using experimental particle image velocimetry techniques accompanied by selected high-resolution numerical simulations, we show, for the first time, the generation of bulk-filling turbulence driven by high frequency tidal forcing. The transition to sustained turbulence is characterized by a succession of resonances first between the tidally forced ellipsoidal base flow with two primary inertial modes and subsequently between secondary inertial modes and the primary inertial modes. Furthermore, deviations in the amplitude of the time-averaged retrograde zonal flow suggest an as yet unseen secondary flow transition that may promote additional turbulence.
The turbulence generated by high frequency, low amplitude tidal forcing is similar to the libration-driven turbulent flows studied by Grannan et al.  and Favier et al. . These works reveal the universal fluid response to elliptical instability driven by separate models that correspond, in geophysical terms, to two end member types of mechanical forcing. In the first, non-synchronous satellites possess elastically deformable boundaries such that shape of the distortion has a non-zero mean motion. In the second, the core-mantle boundary of a body possesses an inherently rigid or tidally frozen-in ellipsoidal shape in a synchronous orbit such that the mean motion of the elliptically deformed boundary is zero. Although the strength of the mechanical forcing is much weaker at planetary settings, the corresponding viscous dissipation is also weaker and thus may still permit the generation of the same turbulent flow found in both experiments and numerical simulations. The efficacy of such turbulent flows in magnetic field generation and dissipation is currently being pursued using high resolution numerical simulations and may prove to be geophysically relevant in a variety of bodies that experience tide-driven and libration-driven forcing.