Earth's northern magnetic pole has mysteriously moved to Siberia from the Canadian Arctic, say experts
Magnetic north has spent the last 350 years wandering around the same part of Canada. But since the 1980s, the rate it was moving jumped from 10 kilometers per year to 50 kilometers, say experts
The Earth's northern magnetic field -- which helps us navigate -- is not quite where it used to be. It has moved away from the Canadian Arctic and has quickly made Siberia its home, say scientists who built the recent World Magnetic Model (WMM), a map of the planet's magnetic field.
But its stop at Siberia is temporary. It will continue inching toward Russia in the future. "By 2040, all compasses will probably point eastward of true North," Ciaran Beggan, a scientist from the British Geological Survey (BGS), told Business Insider.
The new map can help smartphone and consumer electronics companies provide consumers with accurate compass apps, maps, and GPS services. Some of the other users include the military and other organizations such as the Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Defense, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and more, who rely on this technology for surveying and mapping, satellite or antenna tracking, and air traffic management, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
This will ensure safe navigation for military applications, commercial airlines, search and rescue operations, and others operating around the North Pole, adds NCEI.
Why does the northern magnetic field wander?
Our planet behaves like a magnet because deep in its interiors, molten metal -- iron and nickel -- are constantly churning, creating a constantly moving magnetic field. As a result, it is not surprising that the magnetic field is wandering. And the magnetic field is strongest at each of these poles. While the south pole is static, the North pole is not, say scientists.
The moving North magnetic pole was discovered in 1831. And since then, it has traveled around 2,250 km. The wandering has been consistent and slow, say scientists. Magnetic north has spent the last 350 years wandering around the same part of Canada," Beggan told Business Insider. But since the 1980s, the rate it was moving jumped from 10 kilometers [6.2 miles] per year to 50 kilometers [31 miles], he adds.
However, its march eastward is about to slow down. Scientists say that the magnetic north is traveling at 40 km per year compared to the average speed of 55 km over the past twenty years.
The WMM updates these maps every five years. This time, however, they have released the map ahead of schedule. "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," reads a statement by the NCEI.
The wandering magnetic north pole is not a cause of concern for normal consumers. "Compasses and GPS will work as usual; there's no need for any disturbance to daily life," Beggan said in a press release. However, the changing magnetic field could have a bearing on the defense sector and drilling companies, as they need more accurate information, he says.