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Earth's magnetic north pole is on the move

Posted on Wednesday, 6 February, 2019 | Comment icon 24 comments

The Earth's magnetic field has flipped many times in the past. Image Credit: NASA / Peter Reid
Our planet's magnetic north pole is reportedly moving towards Siberia at a rate of 34 miles per year.
This surprising trend, which saw the pole cross an international date line back in 2017, has the potential to cause considerable disruption to magnetic navigation systems.

Scientists have been struggling to keep the official map of the world's magnetic field up-to-date.

"We know from old ships' logs that in the past 400 years, the north magnetic pole has hung around northern Canada," said Ciaran Beggan of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.

"Until the 1900s, it moved perhaps tens of kilometres, back and forth. But in the past 50 years it started to move north, and in the past 30 years it started to accelerate away."
"It went from moving at about five to 10km a year to 50 or 60km a year today."

This rapid movement of the magnetic north pole has been attributed to turbulence in the liquid outer core of the planet where a narrow stream - similar to a jet stream - is thought to have appeared.

The Earth's magnetic field has actually been getting weaker over the last few decades, leading to speculation that it could eventually flip entirely - meaning that compasses will start to point south.

It's something that has happened numerous times throughout Earth's history.

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

Source: Yahoo! News | Comments (24)

Tags: North Pole, Magnetic

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #15 Posted by Nnicolette on 6 February, 2019, 17:54
Then perhaps it was wandering and unsure but has decided to go home. As a kid I always heard it wandered between russia and canada but i guess the curiosity is the speed?
Comment icon #16 Posted by Essan on 6 February, 2019, 18:01
A useful blog piece on magnetic excursions and the possible consequences, with specific reference to the last one ~41kya.  Significantly there doesn't seem to be any correlation between a magnetic excursions and global cooling  (worth reading the comments at the end of the piece)
Comment icon #17 Posted by Nnicolette on 6 February, 2019, 18:01
Yeah i agree google keeps giving me that answer and what im reading hardly sounds credible and goes against all the other answers. But you know there was a time cern made several posts referring to other dimensions as well. Personally i already fully believe they are there and its why we cant percieve dark matter, only its gravitational effects. We arent on the only plane here. I think it does relate to the gravitational and electromagnetic poles but let me not get distracted... It might not be as far fetched as you think. As I mentioned Cern has put forward the sane idea here is a link  https... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by Doug1029 on 6 February, 2019, 18:02
Historically, the magnetic pole has remained more-or-less in the Canadian Islands until about ten or fifteen years ago when it started heading northwest in a more-or-less straight line.  It could become a problem for compasses which depend on it being in northern Canada.  But that wandering habit has necessitated constant adjustments, so this may be just one more adjustment. Could it affect weather?  The Chandler Wobble, which is much smaller than this, is detectable in tree rings.  I think the wobble has its affect by slight changes in weather, so if a wobble of 150 meters can affect tree rin... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by Nnicolette on 6 February, 2019, 18:06
I'm seeing all this and still dont understand why we dont build more underground. Cosmic rays might not be fun.
Comment icon #20 Posted by bison on 6 February, 2019, 18:53
The closest scientifically settled connection between gravity and magnetism I can find, is this: In relativity theory energy has mass. A magnetic field has energy, therefor mass. Mass confers gravity. Then, too, a magnetic field can confer momentum on matter. Momentum is related  to gravity, through force. In this sense there is a connection between magnetism and gravity. However, the mass of Earth's magnetic field is  on the order of 20 kilograms, which, given the immense weight of the Earth, is less than negligible. The question to which I was responding asked a practical question about Eart... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Socks Junior on 6 February, 2019, 19:16
"Magnus magnes ipse est globus terrestris."  Although it's probably more accurate to call it a great moving magnet. This year-ish variation is called secular variation, and really tends to make the geomagnetic pole wander around the North Pole. Business as usual. For the amount of time it has spent hanging around Canada, a change was inevitable. As far as a magnetic reversal goes, the main concern vis-a-vis reversals is that the strength of the field is dropping. Which is what we typically see in a reversal - field drops in strength. Should be noted that the field strength is still quite robus... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by .AKUMA. on 6 February, 2019, 20:06
Are Magnetic pole shifts something to worry about? short awnser Yes!! the reason being that during a reversal the earths magentic field is significantly reduced and is constantly fluctuating, this will not only cause serious damage to satellites but also cause pockets on the earth that receive much less protection from the fluctuating field. expect an increase in skin cancer and potentially very little protection from solar and cosmic rays, that could wreck havoc on infrastructure. on the plus side during the reversal you could indeed see the northern lights in many areas accross the globe.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Seti42 on 6 February, 2019, 23:18
I agree, and there are lots of practical reasons to build underground. Unless you live in an area prone to flooding, of course. Personally (if I had lots of money) I'd have a home that was small above ground, large underground, and a yard that was mostly solar panels with at least one wind turbine. Then again, I live in New Mexico, where that all makes a lot more sense than it does in wetter regions close to sea level. I think a reason many people don't want to be cave-dwellers is the need/desire for lots of natural light. Which is a good argument too...
Comment icon #24 Posted by paperdyer on 10 February, 2019, 1:09
I agree. This is really old news.  This has been known for years. Another reason for the change in weather patterns.  This will really muck with any migratory animal.  Geese will be egetting lost or showing up in entirely new places. With the slight change in the Earth's axis angle, humans are going to be in for "fun".

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