# Using the magnetic declination calculator

Calculating a declination value To calculate a magnetic declination, you simply fill out the "Calculate Declination" form under the "Declination" tab of the Magnetic Field Calculators page, then click "Calculate" at the bottom. Below is an explanation of the each of the sections contained within the calculator form.

Location
• Longitude and Latitude: Entered in either "decimal degrees" or "degrees minutes and seconds (space separated integers)"

• If you do not know the longitude and latitude of the location you are trying to use, try looking it up using the "Lookup location" form on the right-hand side of the calculator, which will populate the longitude and latitude values in the calculator form for you.

If the "Location lookup" can't find your location, you can try to look up your location by going to the "U.S. Gazetteer" for locations within the United States, or the Getty Thesaurus for locations outside of the United States. If you lookup your location using one of these links, please enter the latitude and longitude you find directly into the calculator form on the left. If you are entering the location in degrees, minutes, and seconds, please enter the values separated by a single space. Remember, there are 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in a degree, therefore 35° 30' 0" is equivalent to 35.500. Do not enter the N, S, E, or W designation in the box! The box should be a positive value and the hemisphere should be designated by selecting a value from the choices to the right of the text field. N stands for northern hemisphere latitude, S for southern hemisphere latitude, W for western hemisphere longitude, and E for eastern hemisphere longitude. The USA is (mostly) located in the northern (N) and western (W) hemispheres, which have been pre-populated for you. Latitude ranges from 90° south (south pole) to 90° north (north pole) with 0° meaning the equator. Longitude ranges from 0° (Greenwich, England) eastward through 90° East (Bangladesh) to 180° and westward across the Atlantic from 90° West (Jackson, MI) to 180°.
Model
• Model: The model you wish to use for calculating the magnetic field.

The magnetic field calculator supports two different models for calculating the magnetic field. The first of the two is the IGRF11, which is produced by the voluntary research of the scientific community under the banner of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA). The IGRF is retrospectively updated and the latest update, and is valid for the years 1900.0 - 2015.0. For more information on the IGRF11 model, Please go here.

The second model is the WMM 2010, which is produced for the US and UK defense agencies with guaranteed quality, user support, and updates. The WMM is a predictive-only model and is valid for the current epoch (2010.0 to 2015.0). For more information on the WMM model, Please go here.

The IGRF and WMM are both estimated from the most recent data and are of comparable quality.

Date
• Date: The date you wish to calculate a declination for (Defaults to the current date).
Result
• Result format: The format you wish to view the results in. This allows you to view the results in a popup window (HTML), XML, or as comma separated values (CSV).
Using the programmatic interface
• The calculator provides an easy way for you to get results in HTML, XML, or CSV programmatically. To use the programmatic interface, you just have to url-encode the form parameters into a GET request including the result format you want.

A maximum of 50 connections/sec from all the users is allowed at any time. If this is exceeded, the back-end calculator stops taking requests for 10 seconds. Bulk calculations should be requested serially and not in parallel. If the requests start returning with errors then your script should go to sleep for 5-10 minutes before trying the next request.

The following is a list of parameters and the base url needed to perform a magnetic declination calculation programmatically.

BASE URL: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/calculators/calculateDeclination

PARAMETERS

Parameter Required Default Description
lat1yesdecimal degrees or degrees minutes seconds: -90.0 to 90.0
lon1yesdecimal degrees or degrees minutes seconds: -180.0 to 180.0
modelIGRFwhich magnetic reference model to use: 'WMM' or 'IGRF'
startYearcurrent yearyear part of calculation date: 1900 - 2014
startMonthcurrent monthmonth part of calculation date: 1 - 12
startDaycurrent dayday part of calculation date: 1 - 31
resultFormathtmlformat of calculation results: 'html', 'csv', 'xml', or 'pdf'

EXAMPLE:

A PDF document with the magnetic declination in Boulder today:
http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/calculators/calculateDeclination?lat1=40&lon1=-105.25&resultFormat=pdf
Interpreting the results
• Declination: Declination is the angle of difference between true North and magnetic North. For instance, if the declination at a certain point were 10° W, then a compass at that location pointing north (magnetic) would actually align 10° W of true North. True North would be 10° E relative to the magnetic North direction given by the compass. Declination varies with location and slowly changes in time.

• *Accuracy for the declination is generally within 30 minutes (0.5 degrees) of arc.

*Solar disturbances can cause significant differences between the estimated and actual field values. You can check the current solar conditions from NOAA's Space Environment Center . For more information on Earth's magnetic field parameters, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Feedback
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