Earth’s north magnetic pole is rapidly moving from the Canadian Arctic toward Siberia, forcing NCEI’s scientists to update the World Magnetic Model (WMM). Even though a new updated version of the model is published every five years, the magnetic pole has been shifting so rapidly, that they released the new model nearly one year ahead of schedule.
The northern magnetic pole has moved so quickly in the last few decades, actually, that scientists claim that past estimates can no longer be used for navigation/
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Center for Environmental Information said wrote in a statement.
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.
This out-of-cycle update before next year’s official release of WMM2020 will ensure safe navigation for military applications, commercial airlines, search and rescue operations, and others operating around the North Pole.
— NOAA NCEI Ocean Geo (@NOAANCEIocngeo) February 4, 2019
The magnetic north pole has crossed the International Date Line in 2017, leaving the Canadian Arctic and moving towards Siberia at about 34 miles (55 kilometers) a year. The reason for this rapid shift is turbulence in Earth’s liquid outer core.
Nature News reported that the new updated model was scheduled to be released on January 15, but according to National Geographic, the recent US government shut down delayed the process, pushing the release date to February 4.
This means that the magnetic north can be accurately located again.
According to NCEI, the World Magnetic Model is used by the military for undersea and aircraft navigation, parachute deployment, and more. And then, a number of governmental organizations like NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Forest Service use the model to survey and map, air traffic management, and to track satellite/antenna movements.
Airplanes and boats also use the model for navigation, and airport runways are named according to their direction toward magnetic north, and when it moves, the names also change.
Even smartphone companies use the magnetic north to provide users with accurate compass apps, maps, and GPS services.
But this shift is nothing to worry about, as Ciaran Beggan, a geophysicist at the British Geological Survey said: “The magnetic field (changes) continuously, but it is partly because of its natural behavior.”