Mission and vision

In 2010, the BCMT Management Committee, recognizing the need of having a statement defining the fundamental purpose of the BCMT in a more modern and more precise way than its founding decree, adopted a mission and vision statements. The following statement on the BCMT mission was modified for the last version of the strategic plan to point out the responsibilities of the service in term of data management and distribution. It provides a more accurate description of what is expected from the BCMT.

The mission of the BCMT is to make ground-based geomagnetic observations, manage and distribute acquired data, associated metadata and products, addressing the needs of the French and international geosciences research community, and those of the French administrations, businesses and citizens.

In this statement, ground-based geomagnetic observations include different types of data from magnetic observatories, magnetometer networks and repeat stations. Magnetic observatories differ from simple magnetometers in that they provide very accurate measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field, typically within less than 2-3 nT, over long time intervals, typically decades. This is achieved by using multiple instruments (generally one scalar magnetometer and one vector magnetometer) and the frequent reiteration of so-called absolute measurements, used to calibrate the data and correct them for their drifts (e.g. Rasson 2017, Lesur et al. 2017). Other types of data are also acquired and distributed by observatories, like quasi real-time raw magnetic data, or measurements of ground electrical potentials. Various data products are derived from magnetic observatories, including geomagnetic indices that are measures of geomagnetic disturbances (e.g.Mayaud 1980, Chambodut et al. 2013). Magnetic repeat stations are points at the Earth’s surface where absolute measurements are made on regular basis, typically every one to five years, in order to improve the spatial resolution of geomagnetic secular variation models (Newitt et al. 1996). The vision, adopted in 2010, is:

The vision of the BCMT is to be one of the key components of the global geomagnetic observation system, combining a high level of consistency and robustness in its long-term operations and an ability to quickly innovate as a response to new scientific and societal needs.

This statement stresses two important points. First, geomagnetism is a science that relies on global observations and therefore, to be relevant, the BCMT should be actively participating in initiatives and organisations aiming at improving the global geomagnetic observation system. These include the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA) that coordinates geomagnetic observations, models and indices worldwide, and INTERMAGNET, the global network of digital magnetic observatories (INTERMAGNET 1991). Second, innovation should be at the core of BCMT activities because geomagnetism, as a science, is progressing fast and the primary mission of the BCMT is to address scientific needs.