A six-parameter statistical model of the Earth's magnetic field

Walker, AD, Backus GE.  1997.  A six-parameter statistical model of the Earth's magnetic field. Geophysical Journal International. 130:693-700.

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crustal magnetization, Earth's magnetic field, geomagnetism, spectrum, statistical methods


A six-parameter statistical model of the non-dipole geomagnetic field is fitted to 2597 harmonic coefficients determined by Cain, Holter & Sandee (1990) from MAGSAT data. The model includes sources in the core, sources in the crust, and instrument errors. External fields are included with instrument errors. The core and instrument statistics are invariant under rotation about the centre of the Earth, and one of the six parameters describes the deviation of the crustal statistics from rotational invariance. The model treats the harmonic coefficients as independent random samples drawn from a Gaussian distribution. The statistical model of the core held has a correlation length of about 500 km at the core-mantle boundary, too long to be attributed to a white noise source just below the boundary layers at the top of the core. The estimate of instrument errors obtained from the statistical model is in good agreement with an independent estimate based on tests of the instruments (Langel, Ousley & Berbert 1982).