Volume 44 (1992) Issue 9 Pages 679-707
In August 1991 the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy revised the International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF) for the fifth time. This Sixth Generation IGRF now consists of 10 spherical harmonic models of the main geomagnetic field at five year intervals from 1945 through 1990 and a secular variation model extending the main field model of 1990 through 1995. For the interval 1945-1985 the models are definitive (DGRFs), in that it is unlikely that the underlying data sets will be significantly improved so there is no plan for future revision of the models. The present revision consists of adoption of a definitive main field model for 1985, DGRF 1985, a main field model for 1990 with secular variation coefficients for 1990-1995, IGRF 1990, and a provisional model, PGRF 1985, for 1985-1990 defined as the linear interpolation between DGRF 1985 and IGRF 1990. All main field models are of degree and order 10. The secular variation model is of degree and order 8. The models were derived from five candidate main field models at 1985, five at 1990, and three candidate secular variation models at epoch 1992.5. Weighted averages of the candidate models were specified to arrive at the final models. A brief description of the development of the IGRF is given, useful formulae are reviewed, and contour maps of the geomagnetic elements D, I, H, X, Y, Z, and F at 1990 are included. The nature of and philosophy behind the IGRF are discussed and a new procedure for deriving the IGRF is proposed.