[0808.3310] Inferring basic parameters of the geodynamo from sequences of polarity reversals

The asymmetric time dependence and various statistical properties of polarity reversals of the Earth's magnetic field are utilized to infer some of the most essential parameters of the geodynamo, among them the effective (turbulent) magnetic diffusivity, the degree of supercriticality, and the relative strength of the periodic forcing which is believed to result from the Milankovic cycle of the Earth's orbit eccentricity. A time-stepped spherically symmetric alpha^2-dynamo model is used as the kernel of an inverse problem solver in form of a downhill simplex method which converges to solutions that yield a stunning correspondence with paleomagnetic data.