Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Shifted, Scientists Updated World Magnetic Model

North Pole
Three Polar bears approach the starboard bow of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Honolulu (SSN 718) while surfaced 280 miles from the North Pole. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

 Earth's magnetic North Pole drifted so fast that scientists needed to immediately update the World Magnetic Model which is used in cell phones' GPS system, and in military navigation.

The direction of the compass as it supposedly points to the North Pole has been sprinting towards Siberia at the fast pace of not less than 30 miles per year since 2015. On Monday, scientists updated the World Magnetic Model. The change has less effect on the lives of most people. It is, however, noticeable only to people who need precise navigation as they move closer to the Arctic.

Phil Livermore, the geophysicist in the University of Leeds, said that the north poles inexorable drift suggests that something strange is taking place deep within Earth. He added that scientists need to track the change if they hope to understand the phenomenon.

The magnetic field on the planet is caused by the swirling and spinning ball of molten metal that forms Earth's core about 2,000 miles from the surface. It might be altered by changes in the underground flow. The Earth's magnetic north is not in line with its geographic north, the endpoint of the planet's rotational axis. The magnetic north is constantly moving. According to data gathered from extremely old rocks, there is a possibility that the magnetic poles can flip. It is a phenomenon that only occurs at an average of three times in a million years.

The magnetic north of the Earth was pinpointed in the Canadian Arctic by the first expedition in 1831. In the 1940s it shifted by about 250 miles to the northwest according to the U.S. Army who went looking for the pole. The pole has shifted by 600 miles since 1990 and it is found in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. It is 4 degrees south of the Earth's geographic north.

Earth's south magnetic pole remained in its location in the coast of Eastern Antarctica since 1990. The research conducted by Livermore suggested that the magnetic North Pole's location is controlled by two patches of the magnetic field in Canada and Siberia. He concluded that the Canadian patch appears to weaken as a result of a liquid iron sloshing through Earth's core. He suggested during his speech at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December that the tumult far below the Arctic may explain the behavior of the magnetic lines above it. The next update of the shift is scheduled after 2020.

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