Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Is Moving Toward Russia


Our north pole has been traveling eastward from the Canadian Arctic to Russia. At a rapid clip too, which is causing some concern on how the move will affect navigation and GPS systems.

Lately, the pace at which the pole is moving has been measured at 25 miles a year, or 40 kilometers. In years past, however, the slide was 34 miles per year, or 55 kilometers.

What’s causing a move like this?

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Historically, the Earth’s magnetic poles have been known to stray – and even flip from one end of the earth to the other. The poles are there due to Earth’s molten core which moves around as the Earth spins.

Convection currents of molten metal cause huge, moving electric currents, which themselves form a magnetic field around the Earth. This field protects us all from the radiation in solar winds and charged particles coming from the sun.

At this time, the North and South Poles match the magnetic poles, but that hasn’t always been the case. In the Earth’s history, the poles have flipped several times, bringing the magnetic South Pole to the true North Pole and magnetic North Pole to the true south – and then switched back. Scientists have been able to tell not only that this has happened, but also when this has happened by examining rocks that, when they were molten, marked the location of magnetic north.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Recently, the National Centers for Environmental Information and the British Geological Survey updated the 2020 World Magnetic Model (WMM) with information on how the magnetic north pole has changed and how to anticipate where it’s headed in 5 years. Officially, the North Pole has now crossed the prime meridian.

The WMM is essential for world navigation. The military, geolocation apps and other navigation systems all rely on the model for the official location of the magnetic north pole.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

What about another pole reversal? Well, that’s difficult to predict. According to geological record, the range in time between magnetic field reversals is huge–between 100,000 years to every 50 million years. With that kind of range and the fact that activity in the Earth’s core is hard to measure, the only thing researchers can tell us is that the magnetic north pole is weakening by 10 to 15 percent.

But wouldn’t a pole reversal be weird?