Earth Rhythms

Earth Rhythms

This section explains examples of data obtained from the Global Coherence Monitoring System site located in Boulder Creek, Calif., at the Institute of HeartMath Research Center. The graphs include examples of time domain signals, frequency spectrums, spectrograms and waterfall plots. The spectrum figures clearly show the various Schumann resonances and how the resonances change over time. In addition, an audio file is included so you can hear what these earth rhythms sound like when shifted into an audible range. You are able to see near real-time updates on the changes occurring in the (click on Live Data) resonances and magnetic fields within the earth’s ionosphere.
Data from the large air core magnetic field sensor

Figure 1.

This graph shows about eight seconds of data from the magnetic field sensor. The top trace is from the sensor that is positioned to detect fields arriving from the vertical direction (from above the sensor), the middle trace is from the sensor detecting fields in a north/south axis, and the bottom trace is detects fields occurring in the east/west direction. These are complex signals and contain a number of quasi-standing waves with wavelengths comparable to the planetary dimensions. These standing waves are known as the Schumann resonances.


Schumann Resonances:

Schumann resonances were named after the German physicist Winfried Schumann who first discovered them in 1952. Radiation from the sun ionizes part of the earth’s atmosphere and forms a conductive plasma layer, the ionosphere. The ionosphere surrounding our planet is positively charged relative to the earth’s surface, which carries a negative charge. This creates an electrical tension within the space between the earth and ionosphere. Every second, there are about 1000 lightening storms worldwide, which help to excite the Schumann resonances. Schumann resonances occur because the earth’s conductive surface and the lower boundary of the conductive ionosphere are separated by a cavity of nonconducting air that is acting as a wave-guide. The resonant frequencies of the earth-ionosphere cavity are in the ultralow frequency range (ULF) and extremely low frequency range (ELF). (See Figure 2)
Schumann resonances in earth-ionosphere cavity

Figure 2.

Schumann resonances in earth-ionosphere cavity.


Seven of the Schumann resonances can be seen in Figure 3. The lowest-frequency mode of the Schumann resonance is at a frequency of approximately 7.83, 14, 20, 26, 33, 39 and 45 Hz, with a daily variation of about ± 0.5 Hertz, which is caused by the daily increase and decreases in the ionization of the ionosphere because of variations in radiation from the sun. This has the effect of reducing the height of the ionosphere at noon local time.

Another factor that influences these frequencies is the solar activity during solar cycles, which last nine to 14 years, This activity includes the approximately 11-year sunspot cycles, solar, coronal mass ejections and geomagnetic storms. The cavity is widely believed to be naturally excited by energy from lightning strikes, but there may be other sources of excitation.
The Schumann Resonances

Figure 3.

The time domain signals shown in Figure 1 are converted to the frequency domain with the Fourier transform. The Schumann resonances occurring over an eight-hour period can be clearly seen at approximately 7.8, 14, 20, 26, 33, 39, and 45 Hz.


Schumann resonances have been used for research and monitoring of the lower ionosphere and can be used to track geomagnetic and ionospheric disturbances. A new field of interest, measuring earth’s magnetic fields, is related to short-term earthquake prediction. Schumann resonances also have gone beyond the boundaries of physics, into medicine, where it has raised interest in the interactions between planetary rhythms and human health and behavior (for more detail see,, July 7. 2009)

Although the existence of the Schumann resonances is an established scientific fact, their presence and how these important planetary electromagnetic standing waves act as a background frequency that can influence biological oscillators such as the heart and brain are not generally well known. GCI hopes to further understanding of these processes through its scientific research.
Waterfall plot showing one-hour spectrums over a five-day period

Figure 4.

This graph is a waterfall plot showing one-hour spectrums over a five-day period. The first hour is at the bottom of the graph and additional hours are plotted as you move up the graph. The darker areas indicate increased activity in daytime hours and show that although the Schumann resonances are always present, they are stronger during daytime hours.


When Schumann first published his research the similarity of the 7.8-hertz earth resonance and the rhythms of human brainwaves was quickly realized. Herbert König, who became Schumann’s successor at Munich University, later demonstrated a correlation between Schumann resonances and brain rhythms. Numerous studies conducted by the Halberg Chronobiology Center at the University of Minnesota and other scientific studies have since shown that there are important links between solar, Schumann and geomagnetic rhythms and a wide range of human and animal health and wellness indicators. Even historical events like war, social unrest, military events and acts of terrorism can be correlated with the solar cycles.
Frequency-time spectrogram showing the Schumann resonances over a 24-hour period

Figure 5.

This is a frequency-time spectrogram showing the Schumann resonances over a 24-hour period. The resonances appear as the intensifications (red color) over time. The intensity of the resonances are stronger during the daytime than the nighttime. Although the higher frequency bands are still present at night, they cannot be readily seen in this view.


5 Day Magnetic Field Spectrogram, East/West Orientation

Figure 6.

This is a frequency-time spectrogram showing the Schumann resonances over a five-day period. Notice the difference in the nighttime intensities from night to night.


The Earth’s magnetic field:

Earth’s magnetic field is one of the strongest variables known. It varies with the sun’s activity, the Earth, Sun and Moon’s rotations, diurnal variations (day-night), geomagnetic pulsations, and probably other interplanetary influences. The Earth has a strong internal magnetic field that appears to be generated by electrical currents in the liquid outer iron core that are driven by internal heat sources. This is called the dynamo process. Its strength varies at the surface about from 0.035 – 0.070 microteslas. The magnetic field resembles that of a bar magnet or “dipole field” with an axis tilted about 11.5 degrees from the spin axis.

The Earth’s magnetic field strength was measured by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1835 and has been repeatedly measured since then, showing a relative decay of about 10% over the last 150 years.

Animals, including birds, can detect Earth’s magnetic field and use it to navigate during migration. Cows align their bodies north-south in response to the earth’s magnetic field, but they become confused when they are near high-voltage power lines because of the magnetic fields that surround them.

MagnetosphereTwo types of poles must be distinguished. There are the magnetic poles and the geographic poles. The geographic North Pole is actually the magnetic South Pole, and vice versa. The locations of the magnetic poles are not static; they wander as much as 15 kilometers every year.

The forces of the solar wind are emitting charged particles that are pushing against Earth’s magnetic field, thus creating a cavity around Earth known as the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is the region in space whose shape is determined by the extent of Earth’s internal magnetic field, the solar wind plasma, and the interplanetary magnetic field. In spite of its name, the magnetosphere is nonspherical. Because of solar wind, the surface facing to the sun is flattened; the surface facing away from the sun has a tail, also called the magnetotail (see figure below). A visible phenomenon of the collision of charged solar particles with Earth’s magnetosphere is auroras, or the northern and southern polar lights, which are more commonly known as the aurora borealis and aurora australis. The verb must the singular, is, not the plural, are, because it applies to a singular noun, phenomenon.

Earth's Magnetic FieldThere are also other sources of variation in Earth’s steady magnetic field. Waves originating in the outer magnetic field propagate along the earth’s surface. On reaching the Earth’s surface they cause minute oscillations of the magnetic field, and are therefore also called micropulsations. Magnetic pulsations have been classified phenomenologically on the basis of waveform into pulsations continuous (Pc) and pulsations irregular (Pi). By definition these magnetic pulsations fall into the class of electromagnetic waves called ultralow-frequency (ULF) waves with frequencies from 1 to 1.000 megahertz. Because the frequencies are so low, they are usually characterized by their period of oscillation (1 to 1.000 seconds) rather then by frequency. There are a variety of mechanisms that produce such waves. One mechanism is the resonant oscillation of the Earth’s main magnetic field in response to waves in the solar wind. Additional sources of excitation include waves on the magnetopause stimulated by flow of the solar wind, sudden pressure pulses that move the magnetopause in or out, and sudden changes in the direction of the solar wind that cause the magnetotail to flap (this paragraph is a summary from: Sources of variation in the steady magnetic field, Robert L. McPherron, Encyclopedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 04 Nov. 2009 <>.)

Figure 7.

In this figure, continuous pulsations in the Pc1 range are indicated by the green arrow. In addition to Schumann resonances, the spectrogram also shows geomagnetic pulsations in the ultralow frequency range. These magnetic pulsations, as seen in figure 7, are in the range of Pc1which follows a day-night (diurnal) cycle. The Pc1 range is present mainly at night for GCI’s spectrometer at its Boulder Creek Calif., headquarters. Some scientific literature has reported that an increase in Pc1 frequencies can affect the human cardiovascular system because its frequencies are in a comparable range with those of the human heartbeat.


Listen to the earth’s resonances. This six-minute audio file is data collected from MaggieGCI’s magnetic sensor and has been shifted up in frequency to an audible range. This file is from a nighttime recording during a period of relatively quiet ionospheric activity.

1 comment

    • Anonymous on February 4, 2014 at 2:36 am
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