Earth’s magnetic north pole is hurtling toward Russia

The magnetic north pole is wandering about 34 miles a year. At the end of 2017 it crossed the international date lin

A National Geographic post explains, the magnetic north is what your compass locates, which is defined as the point at which magnetic field lines point vertically down.

SINCE MONDAY, news publications across the world have been reporting that the magnetic north pole is drifting fast from the Canadian Arctic and towards Russian Federation. But then the U.S. government shut down, placing the model's official release on hold, as Nature News reported earlier.

It had been hoped that the updated model could be released even earlier, last month, but it was held up by the recent shutdown in the U.S. government, which oversees the project along with the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, Scotland. This liquid iron is in constant motion due to Earth's rotation and various other reasons, and this motion produces a magnetic field.

Global Positioning System is not affected because it is satellite-based. By the summer, the discrepancy between the World Magnetic Model and the real-time location of the north magnetic pole had almost exceeded the threshold needed for accurate navigation, said William Brown, a geomagnetic field modeler for the BGS. "Airports around the country use the data to give runways numerical names, which pilots refer to on the ground", said the agency.

Since 1831 when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic it has moved about 1,400 miles towards Siberia. Its speed jumped from about 9 miles per year (15 kilometers per year) to 34 miles per year (55 kilometers per year) since 2000. On Monday, they released an update of where magnetic north really was, almost a year ahead of schedule. In the past century, the direction in which our compasses steadfastly points has moved northward, driven by the Earth's churning liquid outer core.

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"It has changes akin to weather", Lathrop said.

Magnetic north is not where it used to be.

But, what causes Earth's northern magnetic pole to constantly shift?

Despite the north pole being a fixed location in the Arctic circle, the Magnetic North Pole is a wandering location which changes year on year.

Over the last few years, Earth's magnetic field has been shifting rapidly. Only by tracking it, said University of Leeds geophysicist Phil Livermore, can scientists hope to understand what's going on.

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"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 Earth's magnetic field doesn't neatly line up with the geometry of our near-spherical planet. And an overall weakening of the magnetic field isn't good for people and especially satellites and astronauts.

The magnetic field shields Earth from some unsafe radiation, Dr Lathrop said.

They can be found in the navigation systems of ships and airplanes as well as geological applications - such as drilling and mining. It is also used by smartphone providers for Global Positioning System, maps and compass apps.

'Our war fighters use magnetics to orient their maps.

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"The magnetic field (changes) continuously, but it is partly because of its natural behaviour", he added.

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