NOAA releases early update for World Magnetic Model

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NOAA releases early update for World Magnetic Model

The speed at which magnetic North moves has increased from 9 miles per year to 34 miles per year, leaving researchers in a tussle to track the changes.

Earth's magnetic north pole, the north your compass points to, wanders in the direction of Siberia at a rate of over 34 miles per year - and that poses a problem for your smartphone maps.

SINCE MONDAY, news publications across the world have been reporting that the magnetic north pole is drifting fast from the Canadian Arctic and towards Russian Federation.

In early 2018, scientists in charge of the model update realized they needed to have an earlier update in order to keep within the acceptable limits for magnetic-based navigation.

Global Positioning System isn't affected because it's satellite-based, but airplanes and boats also rely on magnetic north, usually as backup navigation, said University of Colorado geophysicist Arnaud Chulliat, lead author of the newly issued WMM.

Since 1831 when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic it has moved about 1400 miles (2300 km) towards Siberia. "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 planet's magnetic field is generated almost 2,000 miles beneath our feet, in the swirling, spinning ball of molten metal that forms Earth's core.

Livermore was skeptical. "There's no evidence" that the localized changes in the Arctic are a sign of something bigger, he said.

The magnetic north pole's movement over the past five decades. The magnetic field shields Earth from some risky radiation, Lathrop said.

"The dynamo of Earth's core creates a magnetic field that is slightly tilted from the planet's rotational axis".

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.

"Airport runways are perhaps the most visible example of a navigation aid updated to match shifts in Earth's magnetic field".

The charts, known as the World Magnetic Model (WMM), are used to convert between compass measurements of magnetic north and true north.

When it does, it will not be like a coin flip, but will take 1,000 or more years, experts said.

There's an epic "tug-of-war" between magnetic field patches and apparently the one beneath Siberia is winning.

Also, migratory animals such as birds, butterflies, and whales use the magnetic field for directions. It is also used by smartphone providers for Global Positioning System, maps and compass apps.

Earth's magnetic field has been slowly changing throughout its existence.

And while the model's primary user is the military, it has found its way into Google and Apple's civilian mapping systems. The sudden and dramatic changes weren't anticipated by WMM's previous update.

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