The North Pole isn’t where it used to be

The earth’s magnetic field has been used since ancient times for navigation, and it continues to serve this important function in modern systems, which help navigate aircraft, submarines, mineral exploration, directional drilling, and location services on smartphones. The study of these fields (geomagnetism) is one of the oldest areas of geophysical research. These magnetic fields are not stagnant. They actually vary day to day and even minute by minute as the electrical currents that run through the earth are influenced by the sun’s radiation. Elaborate numerical models, fueled by data from an extensive network of satellites orbiting the earth’s atmosphere, strive to keep pace with the movement.

The earth’s magnetic north pole has been shifting away from Canada and inching closer to Siberia at an accelerating pace. Its historic speed of 0–15 km/year has increased to approximately 50–60 km/year. A recent study predicts that the current trajectory of movement will send it traveling a further 390–660 km toward Siberia. As the scientists pored over satellite data, they determined that two large-scale lobes of negative magnetic flux on the core-mantle boundary under Canada and Siberia are influencing the movement. It is believed that between 1970 and 1999, molten magnetic material in the earth’s outer core changed, basically splitting into two distinct sections, the stronger of which appears to be drifting toward Siberia, carrying the magnetic north pole along with it.


The north pole is moving at a dangerous pace

NOAA: Wandering of the geomagnetic poles