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Become a Citizen Scientist with Our CrowdMag App

Earth's magnetic model developed using CrowdMag data
Earth's magnetic model developed using CrowdMag data

You can help us improve the accuracy of magnetic navigation by tracking changes in Earth's magnetic field with the CrowdMag app.

If you're interested in assisting our scientists with geomagnetic research, we've got the app for you! The CrowdMag app, which is available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple's iTunes store for iOS devices, allows you to help scientists obtain data about Earth's magnetic field.

How does the app work? Your smartphone has what's known as a magnetometer-a miniature device incorporated into its integrated circuits-that allows your phone to function similar to a compass. The magnetometers in most smartphones measure Earth's magnetic field in three dimensions. When the magnetometer's data are combined with that of the accelerometer-a device that detects how the phone has moved in relation to a reference position-the phone's directional orientation can be determined.

Science quality magnetic data are typically collected with low-noise sensors in a relatively noise free environment. However, a phone's magnetometer also senses noise from currents flowing in its electronic circuits. Additionally, a phone's magnetometer has a significantly lower sensitivity than a sensor used for measuring science quality data. All these factors make it difficult to separate noise from the geomagnetic field in a phone's magnetic measurements.

This is where we need your help. After you install the CrowdMag app, your phone will send us the data collected by the magnetometer and accelerometer to help measure the strength of Earth's magnetic field at a specific point. By sourcing magnetic data from a large number of users, scientists plan to reduce noise in the data.

You might be thinking, "My phone has GPS. Why would it need something that works like a compass?" In your phone, the magnetometer and accelerometer help keep the GPS on track since GPS alone cannot provide pointing direction. Other limitations of GPS include the potential for satellite signals to become jammed or masked and an inability to penetrate water well or reach underground. Satellites are also only able to examine one region at a time, which can limit their ability to see the small, constant variations in Earth's magnetic field.

By collecting data from large number of smartphones, scientists plan to overcome or compensate for some of the limitations that accompany satellite geomagnetic data. They also allow scientists to develop magnetic models with much higher resolution than with satellites alone—closer to a few meters versus around 3,000 kilometers. Ultimately, these data and the research that uses them will help us improve navigational accuracy as well as our understanding of Earth's magnetic field and the changes it undergoes.

Download CrowdMag on Google Play for Android devices and Apple's iTunes store for iOS devices and see if you can become a super data collector. You'll earn badges based on the number of data readings you make: bronze for 100 readings, silver for 1,000, gold for 10,000, and platinum for 100,000. To learn more about the app, visit our About CrowdMag page. And, to learn more about geomagnetism, visit our Geomagnetism Frequently Asked Questions.



Enhanced Magnetic Model Updated

NCEI Enhanced Magnetic Model (EMM2015) over the World Magnetic Model (WMM2015) declination contours
NCEI Enhanced Magnetic Model (EMM2015) (solid) over the World Magnetic Model (WMM2015) (dashed) declination contours (1 degree intervals); Red = Eastward, Green = Zero, Blue = Westward Declination

NCEI has updated the Enhanced Magnetic Model
to accurately represent the Earth's magnetic field at a high resolution.

People have used Earth's magnetic field for navigation since ancient times. Magnetic navigation has continued to improve alongside transportation technologies so that now we use magnetic models in planes, ships, vehicles, and even in smartphones. To improve magnetic navigation, NCEI scientists have tracked the changing magnetic field using satellites. This provides the most accurate and reliable models so that users can navigate their world with ease and precision. Using that work, NCEI has updated the Enhanced Magnetic Model (EMM). The EMM is a high-resolution spherical harmonic model of the magnetic field produced by the Earth's core that will accurately represent the main magnetic field on Earth until 2020.

Like the World Magnetic Model, the EMM is a large-scale representation of Earth's magnetic field that gives analog and digital magnetic compasses dependable accuracy. However, the EMM has a much higher resolution than its World Magnetic Model "cousin," making it require more computing power to run. The EMM's higher resolution also results in significantly improved pointing accuracy for applications that utilize it, which is required in aircraft manufacturing for example. The EMM also aids scientific researchers in their study of magnetic field anomalies originating the Earth's crust, which provides insight into plate tectonics.

Using years of satellite, marine, aeromagnetic and ground magnetic survey data, our scientists are able to model Earth's changing magnetic field and predict what it will look like over the next five years. Produced every five years, this model of the magnetic field produced by Earth's rapidly spinning metallic core and magnetized rocks within the lithosphere provides the best source of data for evaluating the evolution of Earth's main magnetic field and the most accurate models for a myriad of navigational uses across the globe.



50 Years of Tsunami Warning in the Pacific

Boat carried onto land by a tsunami at Concepcion Harbor (Talcahuano)

This month marks 50 years since the start of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System.

This month marks 50 years since the start of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/PTWS). Following the May 22, 1960, Chilean tsunami, which stemmed from a 9.5-magnitude earthquake off the coast of southern Chile, members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission established the ICG/PTWS. Today, the ICG/PTWS, based in Honolulu, Hawaii, coordinates an international effort across the Pacific to enhance tsunami warning and mitigation activities.

To commemorate the 50 years of tsunami disaster risk reduction efforts, the United States is hosting several events, including the 2015 International Tsunami Symposium and Twenty-sixth Session of the ICG/PTWS. These events will also be part of Hawaii's Tsunami Awareness Month, which remembers the 1946 Aleutian Islands tsunami that triggered the start of the U.S. Seismic Sea (Tsunami) Wave Warning System in 1949.

In support of NOAA's Tsunami Program, the National Centers for Environmental Information host the World Data Service for Geophysics, which includes information on tsunamis and is the national and international tsunami data archive. The World Data Service's tsunami data archive and its data management activities will be highlighted at the International Tsunami Symposium. Visit our Tsunami Data and Information page to see all of our tsunami-related products and services.



National Centers for Environmental Information

NCEI icon

NOAA's former three data centers have merged into the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

The demand for high-value environmental data and information has dramatically increased in recent years. To improve our ability to meet that demand, NOAA’s former three data centers—the National Climatic Data Center, the National Geophysical Data Center, and the National Oceanographic Data Center, which includes the National Coastal Data Development Center—have merged into the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

NCEI will be responsible for hosting and providing access to one of the most significant archives on Earth, with comprehensive oceanic, atmospheric, and geophysical data. From the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun and from million-year-old sediment records to near real-time satellite images, NCEI will be the Nation’s leading authority for environmental information.

Today we've launched a landing page for the new organization at www.ncei.noaa.gov. Visit this page to browse our full spectrum of atmospheric, oceanographic, coastal, and geophysical products and services.

NCEI is committed to continuing to provide you with the data, information, and services you have come to rely on.

If you have specific questions about this merger, please let us know at ncei.info@noaa.gov.




In The Spotlight

Enhanced Magnetic Model, 2015 Release

Enhanced Magnetic Model, 2015 Release