Tony is the communication technician at the station and is responsible for making sure our internet, phone system and radios are all working. One of the other jobs that Tony takes on every week are the magnetic obs.
The magnetic absolute building is a little hut that was brought over from Heard Island in 1955. It sits in isolation from the rest of the station, located past the equipment parking area and the emergency food containers, towards the glacier edge. The reason for the isolation is to try and reduce any interference by metal objects on the magnetic field measurements.
Tony uses a declination-inclination magnetometer and a total field intensity magnetometer to measure both the direction and strength of the magnetic field. It takes about an hour to take the measurements, at times using the little window in the door to line up with a stake outside. Other measures use little marks all over the inside of the hut that people have created over the years.
It is an interesting process, actually that’s a little bit of a lie, it is a pretty boring process to watch. What happens to the results is very interesting; Geoscience Australia maintains a national network of geomagnetic observatories which forms part of a global observatory network.
Geoscience Australia uses the data measured in our little hut to show how the earth’s magnetic field changes in the Australian region due to processes taking place beneath the earth’s surface, in the upper atmosphere and in the earth-sun space environment.
This data is then used in mathematical models of the geomagnetic field, to monitor space weather, and for scientific research. The resulting information can be used for compass-based navigation, magnetic direction finding, and to help protect communities by mitigating the potential hazards generated by magnetic storms.