The Planet's Magnetic North Pole Has Officially Moved

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The magnetic North Pole of Earth has drifted so fast that authorities have had to redefine the location of the magnetic North Pole officially.

The Planet's Magnetic North Pole Has Officially Moved

NOAA NCEI/CIRES


The magnetic North Pole of Earth has drifted so fast that authorities have had to redefine the location of the magnetic North Pole officially. The extreme wandering of the North Pole raised concerns over navigation, especially in high latitudes.


Earth's magnetic field has reportedly wandered and flipped in the geologic past. It's a result of spinning molten iron and nickel 1,800 miles below the surface. The continuous flow of molten metals in the outer core changes over time, which alters the external magnetic field.


What we have seen in the past 100 years is that the location of the magnetic North Pole has moved northward. The migration of the magnetic North Pole was switched into overdrive in the past few years, causing the pole to move rapidly. The increased speed with which the Earth's magnetic North Pole has moved prompted authorities to update its location officially. The position of the magnetic poles is specified by the World Magnetic Model, which acts as the basis for navigation, communication, GPS, etc. across the globe.


The World Magnetic Model has updated its official location of the Earth's magnetic north. The model is updated every five years. It was last updated in 2015. Nevertheless, the recent rapid movement of the magnetic north made scientists update the model early. The magnetic North Pole has moved 34 miles per year toward Russia in the recent past. Only a half-century ago, the magnetic North Pole was wandering about seven miles annually.


The magnetic North Pole is rapidly moving from the Canadian Arctic toward Russia. The model update also ensures the accuracy of work in governmental agencies across the globe. According to Forbes, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Forest Service, use the magnetic poles in their everyday operations from mapping to air traffic control. Smartphones use the magnetic north for GPS location as well as compass apps.


Though the rapid movement of Earth's magnetic North Pole may cause concern over the potential flip of magnetic poles, there's no evidence that such a flip is imminent. Geologists can interpret magnetic minerals in rocks across the globe to reveal the history of magnetic reversals on the planet.


Earth's magnetic poles have flipped several times in its history, with the most recent reversal taking place 780,000 years ago and 183 times in the last 83 million years. When Earth's magnetic poles do flip, it will not be an "end of the world" scenario. From examining fossil records, there's no evidence that a magnetic field reversal causes increased extinctions, volcanic activity, etc.


Nevertheless, one big issue will lie in the extensive use that our technology relies on the magnetic poles. A reversal would also upend navigation and communication systems across the world. Thankfully, a pole reversal in the past normally takes thousands of years to flip. That will give us ample time to develop mitigating plans.

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Thinking Humanity: The Planet's Magnetic North Pole Has Officially Moved
The Planet's Magnetic North Pole Has Officially Moved
The magnetic North Pole of Earth has drifted so fast that authorities have had to redefine the location of the magnetic North Pole officially.
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