By James Rogers
Published February 06, 2019
Earth’s magnetic north pole is moving away from the Canadian Arctic toward Siberia, according to scientists.
NOAA’S National Centers for Environmental Information has updated the World Magnetic Model to reflect the change. “Typically, a new and updated version of the WMM is released every five years. With the last release in 2015, the next version is scheduled for release at the end of 2019,” it explained, in a statement. “Due to unplanned variations in the Arctic region, scientists have released a new model to more accurately represent the change of the magnetic field between 2015 and now.”
Since 1831, when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic, the magnetic north pole has moved about 1,400 miles toward Siberia. Its speed has jumped from about 9 miles per year to 34 miles per year since 2000. The pole crossed the international date line in 2017.
The reason is turbulence in Earth's liquid outer core. 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 Daniel Lathrop, who wasn't part of the team monitoring the magnetic north pole.
"It has changes akin to weather," Lathrop said. "We might just call it magnetic weather."
The latest update will ensure safe navigation for military applications, commercial airlines and search and rescue operations, scientists say.
The military, for example, uses the WMM for navigation and parachute deployment. It is also harnessed by NASA for satellite tracking and by the Federal Aviation Administration for air traffic management. “Smartphone and consumer electronics companies also rely on the WMM to provide consumers with accurate compass apps, maps, and GPS services,” explains NCEI.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers