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A comprehensive model for the kyr and Myr timescales of Earth's axial magnetic dipole field


We consider a stochastic differential equation model for Earth's axial magnetic dipole field. Our goal is to estimate the model's parameters using diverse and independent data sources that had previously been treated separately, so that the model is a valid representation of an expanded paleomagnetic record on kyr to Myr timescales. We formulate the estimation problem within the Bayesian framework and define a feature-based posterior distribution that describes probabilities of model parameters given a set of features derived from the data. Numerically, we use Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) to obtain a sample-based representation of the posterior distribution. The Bayesian problem formulation and its MCMC solution allow us to study the model's limitations and remaining posterior uncertainties. Another important aspect of our overall approach is that it reveals inconsistencies between model and data or within the various data sets. Identifying these shortcomings is a first and necessary step towards building more sophisticated models or towards resolving inconsistencies within the data. The stochastic model we derive represents selected aspects of the long-term behavior of the geomagnetic dipole field with limitations and errors that are well defined. We believe that such a model is useful (besides its limitations) for hypothesis testing and give a few examples of how the model can be used in this context.

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