Magnetic North Pole Moving Fast Toward Russia, Scientists Say

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The north magnetic pole has been drifting so fast that it could be a problem for smartphone maps and navigation systems.

Earth's northern magnetic pole is moving at an unexpectedly fast rate towards Siberia. Its latest update revealed the North Magnetic Pole is wandering about 34 miles a year.

At the moment, the northern magnetic pole is moving away from the Canadian Arctic and toward Siberia.

So scientists from the National Centers for Environmental Information have rolled out an update to the World Magnetic Model, a year earlier than planned, to adjust the "unplanned variations in the Arctic region" which makes the existing magnetic north inaccurate.

The magnetic shift might not be an issue for satellite-based Global Positioning System but United States military ships in the region rely on the pole for navigation. Scientists this week have updated the location of magnetic north a year ahead of schedule.

"The declination has changed just over 2.5 degrees over the past 22 years since Denver opened", Heath Montgomery, former Denver International Airport spokesperson, said in a statement after the last update.

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Federal organizations like NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration use something called the World Magnetic Model for navigational purposes as well as surveying and mapping, satellite tracking, and air traffic management.

"This out-of-cycle update before next year's official release of WMM2020 will ensure safe navigation for military applications, commercial airlines, search and rescue operations, and others operating around the North Pole", it added. In 2017, he reported that the Canadian patch seems to be weakening, the result of a liquid iron sloshing through Earth's stormy core.

The magnetic north pole, or south pole, does not coincide with the geographical north or south pole.

Scientists have now realised the pace of this movement has suddenly increased, quite significantly, from about 14-15 km per year till the 1990s to about 55 km per year in the last few years.

Lathrop sees a flip coming sooner rather than later because of the weakened magnetic field and an area over the South Atlantic has already reversed beneath Earth's surface.

'It's not a question of if it's going to reverse, the question is when it's going to reverse, ' Dr Lathrop said. Consequently, magnetic north doesn't align with geographic north (the end point of Earth's rotational axis), and it's constantly on the move.

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

That could bother some birds that use magnetic fields to navigate.

Earth's magnetic field has been slowly changing throughout its existence. Smartphone users also rely on WMM data for accurate compass apps, maps, and Global Positioning System.

'Although GPS is a great tool for navigation, it is limited in that it only provides your position, ' geodetic scientist James Friederich from the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency explained in 2014.

'All of these examples need the WMM to provide your proper orientation'.

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