Although satellite electromagnetic induction studies have usually assumed a symmetric magnetospheric ring current source, there is growing evidence for significant source asymmetry. Here we apply empirical orthogonal function methods to mid-latitude night-side hourly mean geomagnetic observatory data to search for evidence of non-zonal low-frequency source fields. The dominant spatial mode of variability in residuals, obtained by subtracting symmetric ring current and ionospheric fields of the CM4 comprehensive model, has a substantial Y2−1 quadrupole component and is highly correlated with Dst. This pattern of temporal variability, which implies enhanced ring current densities in the dusk sector, persists even when peak storm-time data are omitted. The observed asymmetry agrees with that inferred previously by Balasis et al. (2004), from the local time dependence of biases in satellite induction transfer functions. Temporal correlation of the leading mode with Dst, and consistency of its spatial structure with recent empirical ring current models, suggest a magnetospheric origin.