Secular variation of the Earth's main magnetic field is believed to originate in the Earth's core. (The main field is operationally defined as comprising spherical harmonics of degree l ≤ 10.) I propose a different mechanism of secular variation: ocean water being a conductor of electricity, the magnetic field induced by the ocean as it flows through the Earth's main field may depend on time and manifest itself globally as secular variation. This proposal is supported by calculation of secular variation using the induction equation of magnetohydrodynamics, the observed main field and the ocean flow field. The predicted secular variation is in rough agreement with that observed. Additional support is provided by the striking temporal correlation (hitherto unsuspected) between the intensity of the North Atlantic oceanic circulation and the rate of secular variation in Western Europe; this explains, in particular, the geomagnetic jerks, and the recently discovered correlation between secular variation and climate. Spatial correlation between ocean currents and secular variation is also strong.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)