90 Miles From Tyranny : Earth’s magnetic pole is on the move, fast. And we don’t know why

Friday, January 11, 2019

Earth’s magnetic pole is on the move, fast. And we don’t know why

Earth’s magnetic field is what allows us to exist. It deflects harmful radiation. It keeps our water and atmosphere in place. But now it’s acting up — and nobody knows why.

Planet Earth is alive. Deep beneath its skin, its life blood — rivers of molten iron — pulse around its core. And this mobile iron is what generates the magnetic field that causes auroras — and keeps us alive.

But, according to the science journal Nature, something strange is going on deep down below.

It’s causing the magnetic North Pole to ‘skitter’ away from Canada, towards Siberia.

“The magnetic pole is moving so quickly that it has forced the world’s geomagnetism experts into a rare move,” Nature reports.

On January 30 (delayed due to the US Government shutdown), the World Magnetic Model — which governs modern navigation systems — is due to undergo an urgent update.

This model is a vital component of systems ranging from geopositioning systems used to navigate ships through to smartphone trackers and maps.

The current model was expected to be valid until 2020. But the magnetic pole began to shift so quickly, it was realised in 2018 that the model had to be fixed — now.

“They realised that it was so inaccurate that it was about to exceed the acceptable (safe) limit for navigational errors,” Nature reports.

FICKLE TIDES

Every year, geophysicists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the British Geological Survey do a check on how the Earth’s magnetic field is varying.

This is necessary as the liquid iron churning in the Earth’s core does not move in a consistent manner.

“In 2016, for instance, part of the magnetic field temporarily accelerated deep under northern South America and the eastern Pacific Ocean,” Nature reports.

This shift was captured by satellites.


But the movement of the north magnetic pole has been the object of study since 1831. Initially, it was tracked moving into the Arctic Ocean at a rate of about 15km each year. But, since the mid 1990s, it has picked up speed.

It’s now shifting at a rate of about 55km a year.

But another recent study has revealed the Earth’s magnetic field has been acting up now for some 1000 years.

CORE OF THE MATTER

Why the magnetic field is shifting so dramatically is unknown.

“Geomagnetic pulses, like the one that happened in 2016, might be traced back to ‘hydromagnetic’ waves arising from deep in the core,” Nature reports. “And the fast motion of the north magnetic pole could be linked to...
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1 comment:

  1. This is not complicated. As that molten mass wends it's way through pathways, it sometimes finds easier pathways, switching to the easier path. If it happens quickly enough, there you go. Now, if it does it too quickly, and in the right way, there may be a continental switch. Don't worry, buy better winter and summer gear... if hoping your continent isn't the new pole, one of them.

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