Articles | Volume 32, issue 1
Regular paper
27 Jan 2014
Regular paper |  | 27 Jan 2014

Correction of artificial jumps in the historical geomagnetic measurements of Coimbra Observatory, Portugal

A. L. Morozova, P. Ribeiro, and M. A. Pais

Abstract. The Coimbra Magnetic Observatory (International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy code COI) in Portugal has a long history of observation of the geomagnetic field, spanning almost 150 yr since the first geomagnetic measurements in 1866. These long instrumental geomagnetic records provide very important information about variability of geomagnetic elements and indices, their trends and cycles, and can be used to improve our knowledge on the sources that drive variations of the geomagnetic field: liquid core dynamics (internal) and solar forcing (external).

However, during the long life of the Coimbra Observatory, some inevitable changes in station location, instrument's park and electromagnetic environment have taken place. These changes affected the quality of the data collected at COI causing breaks and jumps in the series of geomagnetic field components and local K index. Clearly, these inhomogeneities, typically shift-like (step-like) or trend-like, have to be corrected or, at least, minimized in order for the data to be used in scientific studies or to be submitted to international databases.

In this study, the series of local K index and declination of the geomagnetic field are analysed: the former because it allows direct application of standard homogenization methods and the latter because it is the longest continuous series produced at COI. For the homogenization, visual and statistical tests (e.g. standard normal homogeneity test) have been applied directly to the local geomagnetic K index series (from 1951 to 2012). The homogenization of the monthly averages of declination (from 1867 to 2012) has been done using visual analysis and statistical tests applied to the time series of the first differences of declination values, as an approximation to the first time derivative. This allowed not only estimating the level of inhomogeneity of the studied series but also detecting the highly probable homogeneity break points. These points have been cross-checked with the metadata, and the COI series have been compared with reference series from the nearest geomagnetic stations and, in the case of declination series, from the recent geomagnetic field model COV-OBS to set up the required correction factors. As a result, the homogenized series measured in COI are considered to be essentially free of artificial shifts starting from the second half of the 20th century, and ready to be used by the scientific community.