Science & Technology
The magnetic north pole is heading for Siberia
By T.K. Randall
December 19, 2019 · 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
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