Open Access

Spherical cap harmonic analysis of magnetic variations data from mainland Australia

Earth, Planets and Space200860:BF03352875

Received: 17 March 2008

Accepted: 22 August 2008

Published: 10 December 2008


Spherical cap harmonic analysis (SCHA) has been applied to geomagnetic data from an array of magnetometers deployed across the Australian mainland during 1989–90 in order to examine features of the ionospheric Sq current system. The external contours, corresponding to ionospheric currents, are generally in good agreement with the data in that the direction of current flow is perpendicular to the measured horizontal magnetic field. The derived internal (induced) current systems are less reliable but exhibit fairly consistent behaviour on some occasions. As the Sq current system whorl passes over Australia, the reversed internal current whorl lags by a bit less than an hour. When the external system moves off the continent into the Indian Ocean, the derived internal system sometimes appears to remain over the continent for about two hours but this is found to be caused by the large coastal effect in the west. The variations obtained from the analysis at particular sites are compared with the original data and give generally good agreement. Internal and external variations at several sites are derived and behave as expected to some extent. In particular we find that the internal component of the vertical element adds to the external component on the west coast but subtracts from it on the east coast. Further analyses are performed using data from the CM4 model. The SCHA gives a separation of internal and external components in good agreement with the original for the horizontal CM4 magnetic fields while the agreement is not so good for the vertical component.

Key words

Spherical cap harmonic analysisSq currentsinduced currentsAustralia