Assimilation of ground and satellite magnetic measurements: inference of core surface magnetic and velocity field changes

O. Barrois*, M. D. Hammer, C. C. Finlay, Y. Martin, N. Gillet

*Corresponding author for this work

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We jointly invert for magnetic and velocity fields at the core surface over the period 1997–2017, directly using ground-based observatory time-series and measurements from the CHAMP and Swarm satellites. Satellite data are reduced to the form of virtual observatory time-series distributed on a regular grid in space. Such a sequential storage helps incorporate voluminous modern magnetic data into a stochastic Kalman filter, whereby spatial constraints are incorporated based on a norm derived from statistics of a numerical geodynamo model. Our algorithm produces consistent solutions both in terms of the misfit to the data and the estimated posterior model uncertainties. We retrieve core flow features previously documented from the analysis of spherical harmonic field models, such as the eccentric anticyclonic gyre. We find enhanced diffusion patterns under both Indonesia and Africa. In contrast to a steady flow that is strong under the Atlantic hemisphere but very weak below the Pacific, interannual motions appear evenly distributed over the two hemispheres. Recovered interannual to decadal flow changes are predominantly symmetrical with respect to the equator outside the tangent cylinder. In contrast, under the Northern Pacific we find an intensification of a high latitude jet, but see no evidence for a corresponding feature in the Southern hemisphere. The largest flow accelerations that we isolate over the studied era are associated with meanders, attached to the equatorward meridional branch of the planetary gyre in the Eastern hemisphere, that are linked to the appearance of an eastward equatorial jet below the Western Pacific.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)695-712
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

This article has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Journal International ©: 2018 The authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Please note the erratum to this article:


  • Core
  • Magnetic field variations through time
  • Inverse theory
  • Probabilistic forecasting


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