Articles | Volume 31, issue 11
Regular paper
18 Nov 2013
Regular paper |  | 18 Nov 2013

Reconstruction of geomagnetic activity and near-Earth interplanetary conditions over the past 167 yr – Part 1: A new geomagnetic data composite

M. Lockwood, L. Barnard, H. Nevanlinna, M. J. Owens, R. G. Harrison, A. P. Rouillard, and C. J. Davis

Abstract. We present a new composite of geomagnetic activity which is designed to be as homogeneous in its construction as possible. This is done by only combining data that, by virtue of the locations of the source observatories used, have similar responses to solar wind and IMF (interplanetary magnetic field) variations. This will enable us (in Part 2, Lockwood et al., 2013a) to use the new index to reconstruct the interplanetary magnetic field, B, back to 1846 with a full analysis of errors. Allowance is made for the effects of secular change in the geomagnetic field. The composite uses interdiurnal variation data from Helsinki for 1845–1890 (inclusive) and 1893–1896 and from Eskdalemuir from 1911 to the present. The gaps are filled using data from the Potsdam (1891–1892 and 1897–1907) and the nearby Seddin observatories (1908–1910) and intercalibration achieved using the Potsdam–Seddin sequence. The new index is termed IDV(1d) because it employs many of the principles of the IDV index derived by Svalgaard and Cliver (2010), inspired by the u index of Bartels (1932); however, we revert to using one-day (1d) means, as employed by Bartels, because the use of near-midnight values in IDV introduces contamination by the substorm current wedge auroral electrojet, giving noise and a dependence on solar wind speed that varies with latitude. The composite is compared with independent, early data from European-sector stations, Greenwich, St Petersburg, Parc St Maur, and Ekaterinburg, as well as the composite u index, compiled from 2–6 stations by Bartels, and the IDV index of Svalgaard and Cliver. Agreement is found to be extremely good in all cases, except two. Firstly, the Greenwich data are shown to have gradually degraded in quality until new instrumentation was installed in 1915. Secondly, we infer that the Bartels u index is increasingly unreliable before about 1886 and overestimates the solar cycle amplitude between 1872 and 1883 and this is amplified in the proxy data used before 1872. This is therefore also true of the IDV index which makes direct use of the u index values.