Earth’s magnetic North Pole is rapidly moving and has been for about 40 years. Recently, the pole has been traveling at an unprecedented rate which has prompted scientists to update a vital navigation tool used to track the movement.
Pole shifts are often the stuff of nightmares with apocalyptic destruction taking place. The geographic north pole resides in the Arctic Ocean, but the magnetic pole has moved. A compass will point to the magnetic pole, which is not in the same location as the geographical pole.
According to How Stuff Works.com, the magnetic north pole is far from stationary. In 1831, it was hanging out along the Boothia Peninsula in Canada’s Nunavut Territory. It has since drifted northward into the Arctic Ocean, getting closer and closer to Siberia. Last year, the pole finally crossed into the eastern hemisphere.
— NOAA NCEI Ocean Geo (@NOAANCEIocngeo) August 2, 2018
The magnetic north pole is moving approximately 34 miles every year. However, before the mid-1990s, the pole was only traveling 9.3 miles each year, meaning it’s picking up speed and rapidly moving. “It didn’t move much between 1900 and 1980, but it’s really accelerated in the past 40 years,” geophysicist Ciaran Beggan told Reuters on Friday, January 11. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why the magnetic pole has picked up speed although it looks like a jet of liquid iron (one of the materials that influence magnetic fields) is driving it away from Canada.
The World Magnetic Model is the “standard magnetic model used for navigation” by NATO, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.K. Ministry of Defense, and “smartphone operating systems such as Android and iOS,” according to the British Geological Survey’s blog. Therefore, accuracy is pretty important. Because Earth’s magnetic north pole has been moving so rapidly, the system must continually be updated more frequently than before. After the WMM’s last routine upgrade in 2015, Earth changed dramatically as an unforeseen “geomagnetic pulse” beneath South America startled the scientific community in 2016, forcing the pole to begin quickly moving.