Earth's Magnetic Pole is Quickly Moving Toward Russia, Models Say

Earth's magnetic north pole is wandering about 55 kilometres a year

"By sampling these rocks and using radiometric dating techniques, it has been possible to reconstruct the history of the Earth's magnetic field for roughly the last 160 million years", wrote the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a blog post.

The next official WMM release will be WMM2020 and will launch next year.

At the moment, the northern magnetic pole is moving away from the Canadian Arctic and toward Siberia.

The rapid movement forced scientists to release an update of the World Magnetic Model (WMM), or the actual position of the magnetic on February 4 - nearly a year earlier than expected - in order to allow navigational services, including map-based phone apps, to keep working accurately.

The Earth's northern magnetic pole is on the move, scientists say, drifting from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia. "If one 'plays the tape backwards, ' the record shows Earth's magnetic field strengthening, weakening, and often changing polarity".

It had been hoped that the updated model could be released even earlier, last month, but it was held up by the recent shutdown in the United States government, which oversees the project along with the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, Scotland. Life would continue as it is although changes to the magnetic field could have repercussions for smartphones, consumer electronics, and navigation technology.

WMM helps to calibrate accurate geographical data for a host of consumer uses including compass apps, maps, and Global Positioning System services found on cellphones and other electronic devices.

Airport runway names are also based on their direction toward magnetic north and their names change when the poles moved.

For example, the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska, renamed a runway 1L-19R to 2L-20R in 2009. Its speed has jumped from about 9mph to 34mph since 2000. Declination is the difference between true north and where the compass points to. Earth's magnetic field is created in its liquid outer core, which is made of liquid iron and nickel.

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For most civilian purposes in Western Europe and North America, British Geological Survey geophysicist Ciaran Beggan says the changes would be relatively minor.

The movement of the magnetic north pole "is pretty fast", Mr Chulliat said.

Earth's geographic north pole is fixed.

NASA said: "The last time that Earth's poles flipped in a major reversal was about 780,000 years ago, in what scientists call the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal".

'It's not a question of if it's going to reverse, the question is when it's going to reverse, ' Dr Lathrop said.

When it does, it will not be like a coin flip, but will take 1,000 or more years, experts said. The model is accompanied by software that helps navigation services adjust to the magnetic field's quirks.

The magnetic field shields Earth from some unsafe radiation, Dr Lathrop said.

They can be found in the navigation systems of ships and airplanes as well as geological applications - such as drilling and mining. It is also used by smartphone providers for Global Positioning System, maps and compass apps. Now the WMM has been updated, researchers are working to understand the changes.

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