Earth's Magnetic North Pole May Have Just Officially Shifted

Earth's Magnetic North Pole May Have Just Officially Shifted

The magnetic north pole has been moving so fast that scientists on Monday released an update of where it really was, almost a year ahead of schedule. Scientists discovered the pole was not where it should be in September past year, and, as a result, had to update the model that tracks its movements. The Magnetic North Pole describes the point where the Earth's natural magnetic field points inwards and down to the ground. Currently, the northern magnetic pole is moving from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia.

So scientists from the National Centers for Environmental Information have rolled out an update to the World Magnetic Model, a year earlier than planned, to adjust the "unplanned variations in the Arctic region" which makes the existing magnetic north inaccurate.

Since 1831 when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic it has moved about 1,400 miles towards Siberia.

NOAA explained that the WMM is updated every five years, but due to the shift of the pole, scientists were forced to publish the WMM update a year earlier.

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.

All of these differences can cause problems for people and devices that attempt to navigate using the magnetic field. And while most scientists believe this shift will not lead to any catastrophic mass extinctions, the scenes may be frightening, looking something like the pictures of thousands of dead birds and fish in Arkansas in 2011, which some scientists thought may have been related to animals' sensitivity to changes in the Earth's magnetic field.

North isn't quite where it used to be.

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The NOAA said Earth's magnetic field changes because of "unpredictable flows in Earth's core". It is not a question of if it's going to reverse, the question is when it's going to reverse. The magnetic field shields Earth from some risky radiation, Lathrop said.

If the poles flip, compasses will point south - and it could have significant effects on Earth's power grid (although it's not likely to happen immediately, despite doomsday-mongers' obsession with the idea).

"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.

The entire transportation sector, especially aviation and shipping, depends on correctly knowing the position of magnetic north to chart out their navigation paths.

They can be found in the navigation systems of ships and airplanes as well as geological applications - such as drilling and mining.

'Your smartphone camera and various apps can use the magnetic field to help determine the direction you are facing, ' he continued.

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