I have looked around a bit, but haven't found a simple answer. At an altitude between 100-1000 km,
Is the magnetic field B still around $\sim 10^{-5}\ T$? Is there a simple equation that would provide an quick order of magnitude estimation?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You could (at a first approximation) consider the Earth's magnetic field as a dipole at the centre of the earth, and proceed with your estimations from there. But don't expect things to be spectacularly accurate. $\endgroup$
    – Kitchi
    Apr 27, 2013 at 2:52
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    $\begingroup$ You could try this. Can't vouch for its accuracy but it looks pretty official. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Apr 27, 2013 at 3:14
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the link. It doesn't matter if it's entirely accurate, it certainly answers the order of magnitude question. It remains the same. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2013 at 4:45

2 Answers 2


For future reference, if you even have only the most basic understanding of the physics behind it, you can guess that the fastest the mag field would drop off would be order $1\over r^2$ (which is a safe assumption usually. For Earth's case, it turns out to be $1\over r^3$). And you can guess that it originates from the center of Earth. Since we're sitting pretty at ~6371km, adding another 100-1000 km would not even decrease it by half, let alone an order of magnitude.

  • $\begingroup$ You're right, I could have figured out that much, assuming I knew that there were no other effects to consider. $\endgroup$ Apr 29, 2013 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim - But the field drops off as $r^{-3}$, which is faster than $r^{-2}$... Or are you just suggesting a typical approach for zeroth order effects? $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2016 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @honeste_vivere well, I was suggesting a typical approach because it might not be common knowledge that the field drops off at that rate, but now that you mention it, it does make some sense to mention the actual rate as well $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Jul 18, 2016 at 18:29

You can use this link http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/#igrfwmm for a quick estimation. Just give the latitude, longitude, and elevation.

At $0^o$ N and $0^o$ W and 1000km elevation the field is about 17,457.1 nT, so yes it is still around $\sim 10^{-5}\ T$


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