Published: Tue, February 05, 2019
Science | By

Unexpected magnetic north pole changes mean new world magnetic model map

Unexpected magnetic north pole changes mean new world magnetic model map

The magnetic field changes due to unpredictable flows of the Earth's molten core. Since it's always on the move, scientists update their model every five years, the last update being in 2015.

Earth's magnetic field is now getting weaker, and scientists believe the poles could "flip" at some point in the future.

On Monday, they released an update of where magnetic north really is, almost a year ahead of schedule. It crossed the worldwide dateline in 2017 and is leaving the Canadian Arctic on its way to Siberia.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tends to update the location of the magnetic north pole every five years, but the latest update came almost a year ahead of schedule because the pole is moving so quickly.

It might sound like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie, but the world's magnetic northern pole has changed.

Since 1831 when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic it has moved about 1,400 miles toward Siberia. Airplanes and boats also rely on magnetic north usually as backup navigation.

It's caused by turbulence in the liquid outer core of our planet, where a hot ocean of iron and nickel generates a magnetic field. 'We might just call it magnetic weather'.


The New York Times reports that in the middle of the 19-century, the magnetic north pole was father south in Canada.

"The slowly moving plates act as a kind of tape recorder leaving information about the strength and direction of past magnetic fields".

NASA has poured cold water on the idea that magnetic field reversals could lead to an apocalypse, saying in 2012 that, 'The science shows that magnetic pole reversal is - in terms of geologic time scales - a common occurrence that happens gradually over millennia.

"It's not a question of if it's going to reverse, the question is when it's going to reverse", Lathrop said.

Mr Lathrop sees a flip coming sooner rather than later because of the weakened magnetic field, and an area of the South Atlantic has already reversed beneath Earth's surface. Declination is important to compasses as it helps correct navigation systems for a variety of uses.

With the magnetic field of the Earth changing more than predicted, the values can be off requiring an out-of-cycle update such as this.

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