Publications

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1997
Obrien, MS, Constable CG, Parker RL.  1997.  Frozen-flux modelling for epochs 1915 and 1980. Geophysical Journal International. 128:434-450.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.1997.tb01566.x   AbstractWebsite

The frozen-flux hypothesis for the Earth's liquid core assumes that convective terms dominate diffusive terms in the induction equation governing the behaviour of the magnetic field at the surface of the core. While highly plausible on the basis of estimates of physical parameters, the hypothesis has been questioned in recent work by Bloxham, Gubbins & Jackson (1989) who find it to be inconsistent with their field models for most of the century. To study this question we improve the method of Constable, Parker & Stark (1993), which tests the consistency of magnetic observations with the hypothesis by constructing simple, flux-conserving core-field models fitting the data at pairs of epochs. We introduce a new approach that fixes the patch configurations at each of the two epochs before inversion, so that each configuration is consistent with its respective data set but possesses the same patch topology. We expand upon the inversion algorithm, using quadratic programming to maintain the proper flux sign within patches; the modelling calculations are also extended to include data types that depend non-linearly on the model. Every test of a hypothesis depends on the characterization of the observational uncertainties; we undertake a thorough review of this question. For main-field models, the primary source of uncertainty comes from the crustal field. We base our analysis on one of Jackson's (1994) statistical models of the crustal magnetization, adjusted to bring it into better conformity with our data set. The noise model permits us to take into account the correlations between the measurements and requires that a different weighting be given to horizontal and vertical components. It also indicates that the observations should be fit more closely than has been the practice heretofore. We apply the revised method to Magsat data from 1980 and survey and observatory data from 1915.5, two data sets believed to be particularly difficult to reconcile with the frozen-flux hypothesis. We compute a pair of simple, flux-conserving models that fit the averaged data from each epoch. We therefore conclude that present knowledge of the geomagnetic fields of 1980 and 1915.5 is consistent with the frozen-flux hypothesis.

2007
Jackson, A, Constable C, Gillet N.  2007.  Maximum entropy regularization of the geomagnetic core field inverse problem. Geophysical Journal International. 171:995-1004.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03530.x   AbstractWebsite

The maximum entropy technique is an accepted method of image reconstruction when the image is made up of pixels of unknown positive intensity (e.g. a grey-scale image). The problem of reconstructing the magnetic field at the core-mantle boundary from surface data is a problem where the target image, the value of the radial field B-r, can be of either sign. We adopt a known extension of the usual maximum entropy method that can be applied to images consisting of pixels of unconstrained sign. We find that we are able to construct images which have high dynamic ranges, but which still have very simple structure. In the spherical harmonic domain they have smoothly decreasing power spectra. It is also noteworthy that these models have far less complex null flux curve topology (lines on which the radial field vanishes) than do models which are quadratically regularized. Problems such as the one addressed are ubiquitous in geophysics, and it is suggested that the applications of the method could be much more widespread than is currently the case.

2016
Constable, C.  2016.  Earth's electromagnetic environment. Surveys in Geophysics. 37:27-45.   10.1007/s10712-015-9351-1   AbstractWebsite

The natural spectrum of electromagnetic variations surrounding Earth extends across an enormous frequency range and is controlled by diverse physical processes. Electromagnetic (EM) induction studies make use of external field variations with frequencies ranging from the solar cycle which has been used for geomagnetic depth sounding through the 10-10 Hz frequency band widely used for magnetotelluric and audio-magnetotelluric studies. Above 10 Hz, the EM spectrum is dominated by man-made signals. This review emphasizes electromagnetic sources at 1 Hz and higher, describing major differences in physical origin and structure of short- and long-period signals. The essential role of Earth's internal magnetic field in defining the magnetosphere through its interactions with the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field is briefly outlined. At its lower boundary, the magnetosphere is engaged in two-way interactions with the underlying ionosphere and neutral atmosphere. Extremely low-frequency (3 Hz-3 kHz) electromagnetic signals are generated in the form of sferics, lightning, and whistlers which can extend to frequencies as high as the VLF range (3-30 kHz).The roughly spherical dielectric cavity bounded by the ground and the ionosphere produces the Schumann resonance at around 8 Hz and its harmonics. A transverse resonance also occurs at 1.7-2.0 kHz arising from reflection off the variable height lower boundary of the ionosphere and exhibiting line splitting due to three-dimensional structure. Ground and satellite observations are discussed in the light of their contributions to understanding the global electric circuit and for EM induction studies.