Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Is Moving Towards Russia, NOAA Says in Update

Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Is Moving Towards Russia, NOAA Says in Update

The pole crossed the worldwide date line in 2017.

Northern Lights over a snow-covered road close to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories in Canada.

Meanwhile, smartphones and other electronic devices rely on the WMM to provide consumers with accurate maps, compasses, and Global Positioning System services.

Airplanes and boats also rely on magnetic north, usually as backup navigation, said University of Colorado geophysicist Dr Arnaud Chulliat, lead author of the WMM.

Given that most compasses in use for navigation are now digital or are part of digital systems, software updates can easily remedy the situation. The update doesn't have much outcome for civilian users of magnetic navigation but is critical to military users.

Airport runway names are based on their direction towards magnetic north and their names change when the poles move. In the five years between public updates, magnetic observations from the European Space Agency's Swarm mission are studied to track the movement of the poles. Since the 1990s, magnetic north has been moving considerably faster.

Since 1831 when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic it has moved about 1,400 miles towards Siberia. However, since 2000, its speed has jumped from 15km per year to 55km per year. Earth's magnetic field is created in its liquid outer core, which is made of liquid iron and nickel.

Scientists say the Earth's internal processes might cause these erratic changes, CNN noted.

Just as Global Positioning System relies on the satellites orbiting our planet, the compass in our smartphones and even the designated names of airports are closely tied in with the location of the planet's magnetic north pole.

It's sort of pulling the magnetic field all the way across to its side of the geographic pole.

Generally speaking, Earth's magnetic field is getting weaker, leading scientists to believe it'll ultimately reverse, where south and north pole changes like a bar magnet. While having occurred a number of times in Earth's history, the last time such an event occurred was nearly 800,000 years ago. Only by tracking it, said University of Leeds geophysicist Phil Livermore, can scientists hope to understand what's going on.

"We've updated the model on a five-year cycle, because in the past, that's the average amount time it takes for the errors to become too large", Chulliat said.

Lathrop sees a flip coming sooner rather than later because of the weakened magnetic field and an area over the South Atlantic has already reversed beneath Earth's surface.

Some scientists are even wondering if the Earth is in for bigger changes: combined with a weakening magnetic field, it might spell an eventual magnetic reversal.

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