Journal cover Journal topic
History of Geo- and Space Sciences An open-access journal
Journal topic
Volume 1, issue 2
Hist. Geo Space. Sci., 1, 63-76, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/hgss-1-63-2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hist. Geo Space. Sci., 1, 63-76, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/hgss-1-63-2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  18 Nov 2010

18 Nov 2010

Alexander von Humboldt's charts of the Earth's magnetic field: an assessment based on modern models

M. Mandea1,*, M. Korte2, A. Soloviev3, and A. Gvishiani3 M. Mandea et al.
  • 1Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP, Université Paris-Diderot & CNRS, UMR7154), Case 7011, 5 rue Thomas Mann, 75205 Paris Cedex 13, France
  • 2Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum – GFZ, Sektion 2.3, Erdmagnetfeld, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Institution of the Russian Academy of Sciences Geophysical Center (GC RAS), 3, Molodezhnaya St. 119296, Moscow, Russia
  • *previously at: Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum – GFZ, Sektion 2.3, Erdmagnetfeld, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. The 19th century witnessed a resurgence of interest in Earth's magnetic field. Both observational and theoretical aspects were involved, and one of the emblematic figures of this period was Alexander von Humboldt. Throughout a long life he maintained a strong interest in a broad area of subjects, however, here we are interested in his role in geomagnetism, and particularly in his pioneering contributions to charting the geomagnetic field. Alexander von Humboldt efforts in measuring and charting the Earth's magnetic field are recounted and the maps of declination, inclination and total intensity he had prepared are compared, favorably, with maps for the same epoch based on a modern model of the geomagnetic field, gufm1. This modern assessment of the accuracy of von Humboldt's geomagnetic charts illustrates the importance of his work, being also our homage to the 150th anniversary of the death of Alexander von Humboldt.

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