The Earth’s magnetic north pole often moves from its original position. However, now, the magnetic north is drifting around in an aimless manner and has picked up speed, heading away from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia, according to an IE report. The swift pace of the movement is astounding and has left the scientists confused and it has increased the concerns over navigation, especially in areas of high latitudes. The magnetic north pole of the planet or the ‘N’ on the compass is different from the geographic north pole. While the geographic north pole is in the same place as it always was, ‘N’ is never stationary as the fluctuations in the flow of the molten iron which forms the Earth’s core, continue to affect the Earth’s magnetic field.
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The Earth’s magnetic north pole was first discovered in the year 1831 and has travelled around 2,250 kilometres since then. Generally, the wandering speed of the pole remains quite slow, which allows the scientists to keep a proper track of its position easily. However, according to the NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) National Centres for Environmental Information (NCEI), the drifting speed of the magnetic north pole has gathered pace in the past few decades. This has been accelerating to an average speed of 55 kilometres per year. Although, scientists cannot explain the core fluctuations which are responsible for the drifting of the North pole, the World Magnetic Model (WMM) allows them to map the planet’s magnetic field and calculate its rate of change over passing time. This system is a representation of the magnetic field observations which power navigational tools such as the global positioning system (GPS), mapping services, as well as consumer compass applications.
The government agencies across the world, including American space agency NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and also the US Forest Service, utilise the magnetic poles in their everyday operations from mapping to air traffic control. Every five years, the WMM readings need to be updated, in order to keep the model accurate. It was last updated in the year 2015, however, the sudden movement of the magnetic north has pushed the WMM to update the model early on.
The magnetic poles can flip if they move far enough out of their positions. The scientific evidence suggests that this has happened in the past and the phenomenon can happen every few hundred of thousands of years. Scientists do not know for sure, when the next flip will occur and there is no evidence that such a flip is near. However, if there is a flip, there will be some implications on human life as humans depend heavily on the technologies which rely on magnetic poles.
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Source: Financial Express