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Brief description of geomagnetism and observation systems

About WMM

Learn more about model derivation, uncertainties and magnetic poles

Model & Software

Download model coefficients, software and documentation

Online Calculators

Calculate magnetic field values at or near the Earth surface


Browse imagery and contour maps for main field and secular change

Uses of WMM

Common applications of WMM


License and copyright information

Modular software for World Magnetic Model


The modular C WMM software reads the coefficient file of the World Magnetic Model (WMM.COF) and computes the geomagnetic field at the user-specified location. The download file, available here, is always the latest version. This software for the WMM is developed as a C sub-library that can be incorporated into other applications and software. We use a modular programming approach to facilitate reuse in other applications. We also provide wrapper programs to produce single point, time series and grid values of the magnetic field. The software exactly follows the algorithm outlined in the WMM technical report. The core numerical functions are optimized for speed and efficiency. Figure 1 shows a flowchart of the modular WMM software to compute magnetic fields at a point.

Flow Chart of the WMM program
Fig 1. Flow chart of the WMM program to compute magnetic field at a point. Click image for larger version.

Geoid implementation in WMM software.

In this implementation of the WMM software, the altitude is referenced to the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS 84) ellipsoid. This is generally called height above ellipsoid (HAE). However, WMM users are often more familiar with the height above mean sea level (AMSL). The difference between AMSL and HAE varies with location and the total variation is less than 200 meters. The software allows the user to enter their altitude above the mean sea level rather than their height above ellipsoid. Conversion between heights referenced to MSL and WGS84 ellipsoid has been implemented using the EGM96 geoid. Figure 2 shows the effect of geoid elevation correction at sea level for the year 2010 in the total field. The correction results in a difference of magnetic field strength of about 1-3 nT. The largest differences in magnetic field strength coincide with the largest deviations of the geoid from the WGS-84 ellipsoid. However, the effect of geoid height correction is negligible in the magnetic declination. The EGM-96 geoid height file will also be supplied with the WMM package for this purpose. This option is enabled by default.

Effect of geoid elevation correction
Fig 2. The effect of geoid elevation correction on the total field, F in WMM2010. Click image for larger version.

Use of WMM software for high degree geomagnetic models

The software accurately computes the associated Legendre functions up to degree 2800, making it adaptable for high-degree geomagnetic models.

Details of the World Magnetic Model derivation are described in The US/UK World Magnetic Model for 2020-2025: Technical Report (available February 2020).

Last Modified on: Tuesday, 10-Dec-2019 17:09:22 UTC
NOAA > NESDIS > NCEI (formerly NGDC)
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