DTU closes gap in Earth magnetic field monitoring

Thursday 08 Sep 16


Anna Naemi Willer
Academic staff
DTU Space
+45 45 25 97 06


Rico Behlke
Gæste forsker
DTU Space

Geomagnetic stations in Greenland

The new geomagnetic ground station (variometer) is placed at Summit base on the Greenland ice sheet and has the IAGA code SUM.

Altogether there are now 19 geomagnetic ground stations in Greenland (with SUM in the middle on the map).

Learn more about our near real time data and geomagnetic ground stations at DTU Space.

DTU Space also provide quality controlled data, which we recommend both for scientific and commercial users. Contact Anna Willer or Rico Behlke for more information.


(Map: DTU Space)

In the midst of the Greenland ice sheet a new geomagnetic ground station from DTU Space is now collecting data on the Earth’s magnetic field. The isolated station is covering a huge gap in the network of ground based monitoring of the magnetic field.

The geomagnetic ground station has now been tested and validated and is ready to collect and distribute large quantities of high quality data.

"It’s very unique that we now have a geomagnetic ground station placed so far into the ice sheet of Greenland"
Anna Naemi Willer, DTU Space

The station is placed at the base Summit Camp 3,200 meters above sea level and some 400 kilometer into the ice sheet on the Greenland main land. It was established in 2014 and is now ready to deliver important and quality controlled data about the Earth magnetic field in near real time.

”It’s very unique that we now have a geomagnetic ground station placed so far into the ice sheet of Greenland. It’s the only one and fills a major gap in the monitoring of the Earth magnetic field in this region. This improves the quality in the monitoring,” says Anna Naemi Willer from DTU Space.

Built at DTU Space

All instruments are built by experts at DTU Space with engineer Lars Pedersen as one of the driving forces.

“The instrument at Summit Camp is placed in a harsh environment with temperatures down to minus 25 to 30 C. It sits on a foundation of frozen water in a hole in the ice and snow. So the equipment has to be very robust”, he says.

The new geomagnetic station is scientifically interesting since it provides an important link between the geomagnetic ground stations on the east and west coast of Greenland.

It provides us with important information on the complex ionospheric currents in the polar area for example. The remote location also has technical advantages, because of the severely limited infrastructure in the area artificial magnetic disturbance are almost non-existent.

The new geomagnetic ground station can also register the strong Northern Lights, aurora borealis, in the area.

Large network of monitoring stations

DTU Space is monitoring and mapping the Earth magnetic field with a network of geomagnetic ground stations in Greenland, Denmark and the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean. These data are supplemented by data from satellites to create the most complete mapping possible. 

The data is used by scientists and other experts. The Earth magnetic field is constantly changing and this affects navigation systems on Earth.

So it is important to have an actual picture of the magnetic field as close to real time as possible. These data are for example used to ensure precise navigation by ships and aircraft.

The mapping of the magnetic field is also used as a tool to study the movements of the floating iron in the core of the Earth which yields the largest contribution to the magnetic field on Earth. 

(The picture is from Summit base, where the new station is located. Photo: DTU Space)

Read more about Summit Camp here.

Magnetic field is a shield

The Earth magnetic field shields us against electrical charged particles from Space. Data from ground based stations and satellites are used to construct models of this invisible shield.

Magnetic field models developed by DTU Space are used world wide.

DTU Space is also participating in a number of international scientific projects on measuring and investigating the Earth magnetic field. Among them the satellite mission Swarm, where DTU Space is principal investigator in the program initiated by the European Space Agency ESA.