Science

Magnetic north is moving quickly causing compasses to show misleading directions

Magnetic north is moving quickly causing compasses to show misleading directions”

A more serious possible outcome of the "tug of war" between magnetic field patches in northern Canada and Siberia, which some scientists say is causing the accelerated movement of the magnetic north pole, is its potential to weaken the magnetic shield sparing earth from deadly solar and cosmic radiation. Changes in that underground flow can alter the Earth's magnetic field lines - and the poles where they converge. In the five years between public updates, magnetic observations from the European Space Agency's Swarm mission are studied to track the movement of the poles.

According to National Georgraphic, the system is vital for navigation, affecting everything from phones to commercial airlines and, if not adjusted based on the changes, could have major effects.

Airport runways are named with numeric identifiers based on where magnetic north is.

"Airport runways are perhaps the most visible example of a navigation aid updated to match shifts in Earth's magnetic field".

Since 1831 when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic it has moved about 1400 miles (2300 km) 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.

WASHINGTON (AP) - North isn't quite where it used to be.

"The difficulty is that we don't have a way to directly observe what is happening in the Earth's core so we have to make a lot of assumptions", Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado Boulder and NOA, who works on the WMM, told Motherboard. There is a hot liquid ocean of iron and nickel in the planet's core where the motion generates an electric field, said University of Maryland geophysicist Dr Daniel Lathrop.

"Due to unplanned variations in the Arctic region, scientists have released a new model to more accurately represent the change of the magnetic field", a statement from the NOAA said.

Yet for the military sector, the World Magnetic Model is of strategic importance - unlike satellites, it can not be hacked by foreign powers.

The movement of the magnetic north pole "is pretty fast", Chulliat said.

Since 1831, the north magnetic has been moving across the Canadian Arctic towards Russian Federation, which is unlike the geographic north pole, which is fixed, NOAA reported. Records of ancient magnetic fields from extremely old rocks show that the poles can even flip - an event that has occurred an average of three times every million years.

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

When it reverses, it won't be like a coin flip, but take 1,000 or more years, experts said.

Some scientists believe that Earth could be heading for a magnetic pole reversal. Declination is important to compasses as it helps correct navigation systems for a variety of uses.

Also, migratory animals such as birds, butterflies, and whales use the magnetic field for directions.

The magnetic field shields Earth from some unsafe radiation, Mr Lathrop said. Everyday users of maps applications will never notice the subtleties caused by a misplaced magnetic pole, but submarines and aircraft do still rely on compasses in addition to newer technologies.



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