A 2015 International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF) candidate model based on Swarm’s experimental absolute magnetometer vector mode data

Pierre Vigneron, Gauthier Hulot, Nils Olsen, Jean-Michel Léger, Thomas Jager, Laura Brocco, Olivier Sirol, Pierdavide Coïsson, Xavier Lalanne, Arnaud Chulliat, François Bertrand, Axel Boness, Isabelle Fratter

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Each of the three satellites of the European Space Agency Swarm mission carries an absolute scalar magnetometer (ASM) that provides the nominal 1-Hz scalar data of the mission for both science and calibration purposes. These ASM instruments, however, also deliver autonomous 1-Hz experimental vector data. Here, we report on how ASM-only scalar and vector data from the Alpha and Bravo satellites between November 29, 2013 (a week after launch) and September 25, 2014 (for on-time delivery of the model on October 1, 2014) could be used to build a very valuable candidate model for the 2015.0 International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF). A parent model was first computed, describing the geomagnetic field of internal origin up to degree and order 40 in a spherical harmonic representation and including a constant secular variation up to degree and order 8. This model was next simply forwarded to epoch 2015.0 and truncated at degree and order 13. The resulting ASM-only 2015.0 IGRF candidate model is compared to analogous models derived from the mission’s nominal data and to the now-published final 2015.0 IGRF model. Differences among models mainly highlight uncertainties enhanced by the limited geographical distribution of the selected data set (essentially due to a lack of availability of data at high northern latitude satisfying nighttime conditions at the end of the time period considered). These appear to be comparable to differences classically observed among IGRF candidate models. These positive results led the ASM-only 2015.0 IGRF candidate model to contribute to the construction of the final 2015.0 IGRF model.
Original languageEnglish
Article number95
JournalEarth, Planets and Space
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.


  • Swarm
  • IGRF
  • Absolute vector magnetometer

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