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Paper: Modeling the Sun's Global Meridional Circulation
Volume: 478, Fifty Years of Seismology of the Sun and Stars
Page: 283
Authors: Dikpati, M.
Abstract: Meridional circulation is an important ingredient for solar dynamo models, and hence knowing its speed, its profile in latitude and depth and its time variation is crucial for understanding the dynamo. Observations provide us with knowledge about its speed and profile at the surface, more accurately at low to mid-latiudes. Consensus has not been reached regarding what is happening in polar regions and at greater depths. The theory of meridional circulation with latitude and depth can give us guidance as to what may be happening in these regions. A hierarchy of complexity of approaches to develop this theory is possible. We have built a global hydro-dynamical model of meridional circulation that includes Coriolis forces from differential rotation, turbulent Reynolds stresses, pressure forces, and provision for thermodynamics. By specifying differential rotations motivated by observations, we find that the steady-state solutions from this model include the following patterns: i) one long cell with poleward surface flow and an equatorward return flow at the base of the convection zone when there is no density increase with depth; ii) a primary flow-cell with poleward surface flow at low to mid-latitudes, together with a second, high latitude, reversed equatorward flow cell in the case of a solar-like density increase with depth and a solar-like differential rotation. However, for solar-like turbulent viscosity, the meridional flow speeds are much larger than observed, implying that an additional physical mechanism is needed that works against the meridional flow. The most likely candidate is a negative buoyancy force arising from small departures of the radial temperature gradient from the adiabatic gradient. There are several possible mechanisms for producing such an effect, but none can be defined well from available observations.
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