CORDIS - EU research results

Dynamics of Earth’s core from multi-satellite observations


Earth's magnetic field plays a fundamental role in our planetary
habitat, controlling interactions between the Earth and the solar wind.
Here, I propose to use magnetic observations, made simultaneously by
multiple satellites, along with numerical models of outer core dynamics,
to test whether convective processes can account for ongoing changes in
the field. The geomagnetic field is generated by a dynamo process
within the core converting kinetic energy of the moving liquid metal
into magnetic energy. Yet observations show a region of persistently
weak field in the South Atlantic that has grown in size in recent
decades. Pinning down the core dynamics responsible for this behaviour
is essential if we are to understand the detailed time-dependence of the
geodynamo, and to forecast future field changes.

Global magnetic observations from the Swarm constellation mission, with
three identical satellites now carrying out the most detailed ever
survey of the geomagnetic field, provide an exciting opportunity to
probe the dynamics of the core in exquisite detail. To exploit this
wealth of data, it is urgent that contaminating magnetic sources in the
lithosphere and ionosphere are better separated from the core-generated
field. I propose to achieve this, and to test the hypothesis that core
convection has controlled the recent field evolution in the South
Atlantic, via three interlinked projects. First I will co-estimate
separate models for the lithospheric and core fields, making use of
prior information from crustal geology and dynamo theory. In parallel,
I will develop a new scheme for isolating and removing the signature of
polar ionospheric currents, better utilising ground-based data. Taking
advantage of these improvements, data from Swarm and previous missions
will be reprocessed and then assimilated into a purpose-built model of
quasi-geostrophic core convection.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 828 708,00
2800 Kongens Lyngby

See on map

Danmark Hovedstaden Københavns omegn
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 828 708,00

Beneficiaries (1)