Earlier, scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British Geological Survey updated the coordinates of the magnetic north pole, saying it was gradually leaving the Canadian Arctic behind and moving toward Russia's Siberia at a rate of over 55 km per year, up from less than 15 km in the year 2000.
Scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information have released an early update for the World Magnetic Model that powers a variety of global navigational systems.
Earth's magnetic north pole has been drifting so much in recent years that scientific estimates are no longer accurate for navigation, prompting the National Centers for Environmental Information to publish updated information almost a year early. "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", said the news release.
Turbulence in in the planet's core, where the motion generates an electric field, has caused the field to change in systems described as "akin to weather". Planes and boats also rely on magnetic north, usually as back-up navigation, said University of Colorado geophysicist Arnaud Chulliat, lead author of the newly issued World Magnetic Model.
Even though the magnetic North Pole has never stayed idle, scientists have been left wondering as to why it has been moving so erratically. The Fairbanks airport renamed runway 1L-19R to 2L-20R in 2009.
The NOAA said the WMM is used by the military, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Forest Service for mapping, navigation, and air traffic management.
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.
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Scientists first noticed the change in 2018 thanks to a "huge amount of satellite data", which showed the pole had gone beyond the model's predicted area, Beggan said. If the mathematically expected location of the Magnetic North Pole is wrong, navigation equipment will be off kilter.
The natural movement of the magnetic North Pole has accelerated in recent years toward Siberia, threatening to throw the world's smartphones and Global Positioning System (GPS) off-kilter.
Early previous year, scientists realized the errors were getting too big too fast, especially in the Arctic.
"It's not a question of if it's going to reverse, the question is when it's going to reverse", Lathrop said.
When it does, it will not be like a coin flip, but will take 1,000 or more years, experts said.
Over the last few years, Earth's magnetic field has been shifting rapidly. And an overall weakening of the magnetic field isn't good for people and especially satellites and astronauts.
The magnetic field shields Earth from some risky radiation, Dr Lathrop said. Declination is the difference between true north and where the compass points to. The military uses the WMM for undersea and aircraft navigation, parachute deployment, and more. Smartphone users also rely on WMM data for accurate compass apps, maps, and Global Positioning System. Now the WMM has been updated, researchers are working to understand the changes.