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Science & Technology

The magnetic north pole is heading for Siberia

December 19, 2019 | Comment icon 27 comments



The magnetic north pole will eventually end up in Russia. Image Credit: NASA / Peter Reid
Thanks to a weakening of the Earth's magnetic field, the magnetic north pole is moving away from Canada.
Contrary to popular belief, the geographic north pole - the northernmost point on the Earth's surface - is not actually the same as the magnetic north pole - the point at which the planet's magnetic field points vertically downwards.

The magnetic north pole has traditionally been located within the Canadian Arctic, however over the last 20 years it has been slowly moving towards Siberia at a rate of 34 miles per year.

According to the latest data released by the National Centers for Environmental Information and the British Geological Survey, this movement is likely to continue for many years to come, albeit at the slightly slower speed of 20 miles per year.

Accurate data is essential because it is critical to the functioning of GPS navigation systems.
The reason for the magnetic north pole's movement is due to a weakening of the planet's magnetic field, however it is not fully understood why such a decline should be happening.

Some scientists believe that the field will eventually flip over completely on its axis, meaning that north and south will be effectively reversed - something that has happened several times before.

It is unclear however when this will happen or what impact it will have on human civilization.

"It's not a question of if it's going to reverse, the question is when it's going to reverse," said Ciaran Beggan of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.

Source: Live Science | Comments (27)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by Doc Socks Junior 2 years ago
Thanks for the information about the geomagnetic field. I appreciate you taking the effort to educate me about it. I suppose one learns something new everyday!
Comment icon #19 Posted by Manwon Lender 2 years ago
Your very welcome but all that information is online, if you have any further interest I would check it out. Like I said some scientists agree and others still think this is a big issue, you have to look at the research , if someone speaks but offers none I would not listen to them. Any competent scientist is going to use research to back up his theory or statements.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Doc Socks Junior 2 years ago
I may indeed check out some research on the geomagnetic field. Certainly sounds like an interesting topic. The people who study it seem like huge nerds though, you know?
Comment icon #21 Posted by Manwon Lender 2 years ago
They most likely are, but without them where would we be?
Comment icon #22 Posted by Doc Socks Junior 2 years ago
True! If one of them was available, I'd certainly be interested in what they said about the current field activity and how important it was. 
Comment icon #23 Posted by moonmare143 2 years ago
North magnetic poles is on the move becose of melting glacier!
Comment icon #24 Posted by Doug1029 2 years ago
It was a mistake in using magnetic declination that caused the very first survey line (the Geographer's Line) in the US' Public Land Survey to be declined 1.3 degrees.  The result was that the entire Seven Ranges Survey is 1.3 degrees off true.  The west line of the Seven Ranges Survey was used as a meridian by the Ohio Survey, so that entire survey is also off.  And they knew about the shifting poles - they just forgot to apply the knowledge. Doug
Comment icon #25 Posted by Jon the frog 2 years ago
Do a magnetic pole reversing could impact electronic devices like an EMP ? Don't know if it cut off the protection from solar wind for a while when happening...would be a mess.
Comment icon #26 Posted by ChrLzs 2 years ago
No, it's a very weak field (but of course, very large..) - devices that use the magnetic field or compensate for it, may need re-calibration.  If only we knew someone with a knowledge of the topic, he could be specific...   This could be important.  The Van Allen belts are largely there (and are shaped by) the magnetic field...  If it flips, we may temporarily lose their protection, in which case solar radiation and incoming high energy particles will increase, and that could become rather nasty if it lasts....  We just don't know enough, but the geological record tends to suggest that we shou... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by Doug1029 2 years ago
Somewhere I read that field strength will not dip lower than about 80% during a pole reversal, so the risk of radiation damage will be minimal.  On the other hand, we may never know which way is north again. Doug


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