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Earth's magnetic field Practice Objectives Background Materials Method Results Appendixes Circuit diagram Compass Earth's magnetic field Electronic color code Multimeter Right-hand rule Solenoid Earth's magnetic field Earth's magnetic field The magnetosphere shields the surface of the Earth from the charged particles of the solar wind and is generated by electric currents located in many different parts of the Earth. Description: A large compass can be turned on its side to show the magnetic field lines of the Earth.
It is compressed on the day (Sun) side due to the force of the arriving particles, and extended on the night side. Some of the charged particles from the solar wind are trapped in the Van Allen radiation belt. A smaller number of particles from the solar wind manage to travel, as though on an electromagnetic energy transmission line, to the Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere in the auroral zones.
The only time the solar wind is observable on the Earth is when it is strong enough to produce phenomena such as the aurora and geomagnetic storms. Bright auroras strongly heat the ionosphere, causing its plasma to expand into the magnetosphere, increasing the size of the plasma geosphere, and causing escape of atmospheric matter into the solar wind.
Geomagnetic storms result when the pressure of plasmas contained inside the magnetosphere is sufficiently large to inflate and thereby distort the geomagnetic field. For example, the levels of ionizing radiation and radio interference can vary by factors of hundreds to thousands; and the shape and location of the magnetopause and bow shock wave upstream of it can change by several Earth radii, exposing geosynchronous satellites to the direct solar wind. Another way of saying this is that the inclination of the Earth's field is 90A° at the North Magnetic Pole and -90A° at the South Magnetic Pole.
At a magnetic pole, a compass held in the horizontal plane points randomly, while otherwise it points nearly to the North Magnetic Pole or away from the South Magnetic Pole, though local deviations exist. The two poles wander independently of each other and are not at directly opposite positions on the globe. Magnetic dip pole can migrate rapidly, observation of up to 40 km per year have been made for the North Magnetic Pole[6]. However, significant non-dipolar terms in an accurate description of the geomagnetic field cause the position of the two pole types to be in different places.

The average magnetic field strength in the Earth's outer core was measured to be 25 Gauss, 50 times stronger than the magnetic field at the surface.[9][10] The field is similar to that of a bar magnet. The Earth's core is hotter than 1043 K, the Curie point temperature above which the orientations of spins within iron become randomized. When conducting fluid flows across an existing magnetic field, electric currents are induced, which in turn creates another magnetic field. When this magnetic field reinforces the original magnetic field, a dynamo is created that sustains itself. This is called the Dynamo Theory and it explains how the Earth's magnetic field is sustained. Such a field is always generated near where the atmosphere is closest to the Sun, causing daily alterations that can deflect surface magnetic fields by as much as one degree. Using magnetic instruments adapted from airborne magnetic anomaly detectors developed during World War II to detect submarines, the magnetic variations across the ocean floor have been mapped. The basalt a€” the iron-rich, volcanic rock making up the ocean floor a€” contains a strongly magnetic mineral (magnetite) and can locally distort compass readings.
More important, because the presence of magnetite gives the basalt measurable magnetic properties, these magnetic variations have provided another means to study the deep ocean floor. Some scientists have produced models for the core of the Earth wherein the magnetic field is only quasi-stable and the poles can spontaneously migrate from one orientation to the other over the course of a few hundred to a few thousand years. External events are not likely to be routine causes of magnetic field reversals due to the lack of a correlation between the age of impact craters and the timing of reversals. Regardless of the cause, when the magnetic pole flips from one hemisphere to the other this is known as a reversal, whereas temporary dipole tilt variations that take the dipole axis across the equator and then back to the original polarity are known as excursions. Sediments laid on the ocean floor orient themselves with the local magnetic field, a signal that can be recorded as they solidify. Although deposits of igneous rock are mostly paramagnetic, they do contain traces of ferri- and antiferromagnetic materials in the form of ferrous oxides, thus giving them the ability to possess remnant magnetization.

In fact, this characteristic is quite common in numerous other types of rocks and sediments found throughout the world. Before magma exits the mantle through a fissure, it is at an extremely high temperature, above the Curie temperature of any ferrous oxide that it may contain. The lava begins to cool and solidify once it enters the ocean, allowing these ferrous oxides to eventually regain their magnetic properties, specifically, the ability to hold a remnant magnetization. Assuming that the only magnetic field present at these locations is that associated with the Earth itself, this solidified rock becomes magnetized in the direction of the geomagnetic field.
Although the strength of the field is rather weak and the iron content of typical rock samples is small, the relatively small remnant magnetization of the samples is well within the resolution of modern magnetometers. The age and magnetization of solidified lava samples can then be measured to determine the orientation of the geomagnetic field during ancient eras. The later A?rsted satellite allowed a comparison indicating a dynamic geodynamo in action that appears to be giving rise to an alternate pole under the Atlantic Ocean west of S. Africa.[18] Governments sometimes operate units that specialise in measurement of the Earth's magnetic field.
These are geomagnetic observatories, typically part of a national Geological Survey, for example the British Geological Survey's Eskdalemuir Observatory.
Such observatories can measure and forecast magnetic conditions that sometimes affect communications, electric power, and other human activities. Typically, these magnetic anomaly detectors are flown in aircraft like the UK's Nimrod or towed as an instrument or an array of instruments from surface ships. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106 (14): 5708a€“13.

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