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2018
Davies, CJ, Constable CG.  2018.  Searching for geomagnetic spikes in numerical dynamo simulations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 504:72-83.   10.1016/j.epsl.2018.09.037   AbstractWebsite

We use numerical dynamo simulations to investigate rapid changes in geomagnetic field intensity. The work is motivated by paleomagnetic observations of 'geomagnetic spikes', events where the field intensity rose and then fell by a factor of 2-3 over decadal timescales and a confined spatial region. No comparable events have been found in the historical record and so geomagnetic spikes may contain new and important information regarding the operation of the geodynamo. However, they are also controversial because uncertainties and resolution limitations in the available data hinder efforts to define their spatiotemporal characteristics. This has led to debate over whether such extreme events can originate in Earth's liquid core. Geodynamo simulations produce high spatio-temporal resolution intensity information, but must be interpreted with care since they cannot yet run at the conditions of Earth's liquid core. We employ reversing and non-reversing geodynamo simulations run at different physical conditions and consider various methods of scaling the results to allow comparison with Earth. In each simulation we search for 'extremal events', defined as the maximum intensity difference between consecutive time points, at each location on a 2 degrees latitude-longitude grid at Earth's surface, thereby making no assumptions regarding the spatio-temporal character of the event. Extremal events display spike-shaped time-series in some simulations, though they can often be asymmetric about the peak intensity. Maximum rates of change reach 0.75 mu Tyr(-1) in several simulations, the lower end of estimates for spikes, suggesting that such events can originate from the core. The fastest changes generally occur at latitudes > 50 degrees, which could be used to guide future data acquisitions. Extremal events in the simulations arise from rapid intensification of flux patches as they migrate across the core surface, rather than emergence of flux from within the core. The prospect of observing more spikes in the paleomagnetic record appears contingent on finding samples at the right location and time to sample this particular phase of flux patch evolution. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier B.V.

2010
Hulot, G, Finlay CC, Constable CG, Olsen N, Mandea M.  2010.  The Magnetic Field of Planet Earth. Space Science Reviews. 152:159-222.   10.1007/s11214-010-9644-0   AbstractWebsite

The magnetic field of the Earth is by far the best documented magnetic field of all known planets. Considerable progress has been made in our understanding of its characteristics and properties, thanks to the convergence of many different approaches and to the remarkable fact that surface rocks have quietly recorded much of its history. The usefulness of magnetic field charts for navigation and the dedication of a few individuals have also led to the patient construction of some of the longest series of quantitative observations in the history of science. More recently even more systematic observations have been made possible from space, leading to the possibility of observing the Earth's magnetic field in much more details than was previously possible. The progressive increase in computer power was also crucial, leading to advanced ways of handling and analyzing this considerable corpus of data. This possibility, together with the recent development of numerical simulations, has led to the development of a very active field in Earth science. In this paper, we make an attempt to provide an overview of where the scientific community currently stands in terms of observing, interpreting and understanding the past and present behavior of the so-called main magnetic field produced within the Earth's core. The various types of data are introduced and their specific properties explained. The way those data can be used to derive the time evolution of the core field, when this is possible, or statistical information, when no other option is available, is next described. Special care is taken to explain how information derived from each type of data can be patched together into a consistent description of how the core field has been behaving in the past. Interpretations of this behavior, from the shortest (1 yr) to the longest (virtually the age of the Earth) time scales are finally reviewed, underlining the respective roles of the magnetohydodynamics at work in the core, and of the slow dynamic evolution of the planet as a whole.