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  • 1
    ISSN: 0992-7689
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Geosciences , Physics
    Notes: Abstract The technique of tracing along magnetic field lines is widely used in magnetospheric physics to provide a “magnetic frame of reference” that facilitates both the planning of experiments and the interpretation of observations. The precision of any such magnetic frame of reference depends critically on the accurate representation of the various sources of magnetic field in the magnetosphere. In order to consider this important problem systematically, a study is initiated to estimate first the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing in the magnetosphere that arise solely from the published (standard) errors in the specification of the geomagnetic field of internal origin. Because of the complexity in computing these uncertainties for the complete geomagnetic field of internal origin, attention is focused in this preliminary paper on the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing that result from the standard errors in just the axisymmetric part of the internal geomagnetic field. An exact analytic equation exists for the magnetic field lines of an arbitrary linear combination of axisymmetric multipoles. This equation is used to derive numerical estimates of the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing that are due to the published standard errors in the axisymmetric spherical harmonic coefficients (i.e. gn0 ± δgn0). Numerical results determined from the analytic equation are compared with computational results based on stepwise numerical integration along magnetic field lines. Excellent agreement is obtained between the analytical and computational methods in the axisymmetric case, which provides great confidence in the accuracy of the computer program used for stepwise numerical integration along magnetic field lines. This computer program is then used in the following paper to estimate the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing in the magnetosphere that arise from the published standard errors in the full set of spherical harmonic coefficients, which define the complete (non-axisymmetric) geomagnetic field of internal origin. Numerical estimates of the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing in the magnetosphere, calculated here for the axisymmetric part of the internal geomagnetic filed, should be regarded as “first approximations” in the sense that such estimates are only as accurate as the published standard errors in the set of axisymmetric spherical harmonic coefficients. However, all procedures developed in this preliminary paper can be applied to the derivation of more realistic estimates of the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing in the magnetosphere, following further progress in the determination of more accurate standard errors in the spherical harmonic coefficients.
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  • 2
    ISSN: 0992-7689
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Geosciences , Physics
    Notes: Abstract The discussion in the preceding paper is restricted to the uncertainties in magnetic-field-iine tracing in the magnetosphere resulting from published standard errors in the spherical harmonic coefficients that define the axisymmetric part of the internal geomagnetic field (i.e. gn0 ± δgn0). Numerical estimates of these uncertainties based on an analytic equation for axisymmetric field lines are in excellent agreement with independent computational estimates based on stepwise numerical integration along magnetic field lines. This comparison confirms the accuracy of the computer program used in the present paper to estimate the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing that arise from published standard errors in the full set of spherical harmonic coefficients, which define the complete (non-axisymmetric) internal geomagnetic field (i.e. gnm ± θgnm and hnm ± θhnm). An algorithm is formulated that greatly reduces the computing time required to estimate these uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing. The validity of this algorithm is checked numerically for both the axisymmetric part of the internal geomagnetic field in the general case (1 ≤ n ≤ 10) and the complete internal geomagnetic field in a restrictive case (0 ≤ m ≤ n, 1 ≤ n ≤ 3). On this basis it is assumed that the algorithm can be used with confidence in those cases for which the computing time would otherwise be prohibitively long. For the complete internal geomagnetic field, the maximum characteristic uncertainty in the geocentric distance of a field line that crosses the geomagnetic equator at a nominal dipolar distance of 2 RE is typically 100 km. The corresponding characteristic uncertainty for a field line that crosses the geomagnetic equator at a nominal dipolar distance of 6 RE is typically 500 km. Histograms and scatter plots showing the characteristic uncertainties associated with magnetic-field-line tracing in the magnetosphere are presented for a range of illustrative examples. Finally, estimates are given for the maximum uncertainties in the locations of the conjugate points of selected geophysical observatories. Numerical estimates of the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing in the magnetosphere, including the associated uncertainties in thelocations of the conjugate points of geophysical observatories, should be regarded as “first approximations” in the sense that these estimates are only as accurate as the published standard errors in the full set of spherical harmomic coefficients. As in the preceding paper, howerver, all computational techniques developed in this paper can be used to derive more realistic estimates of the uncertainties in magnetic-field-line tracing in the magnetosphere, following further progress in the determination of more accurate standard errors in the spherical harmonic coefficients.
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