Scientists stumped as magnetic pole races towards Siberia, prompting an early update to GPS

  06 February 2019    Read: 2127
Scientists stumped as magnetic pole races towards Siberia, prompting an early update to GPS

There's an epic "tug-of-war" between magnetic field patches and apparently, the one beneath Siberia is winning. Scientists have been forced to update GPS at a much faster rate than had previously been expected.

Geophysicist Phil Livermore is suggesting that two patches of magnetic field, one under Canada and the other under Siberia, are duking it out in an epic game of geophysical "tug-of-war." While the patch under Canada may have historically been the stronger, the one under Russia now seems to have the upper hand. He said:

It's sort of pulling the magnetic field all the way across to its side of the geographic pole.

Usually released every five years, the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Monday's early update of the World Magnetic Model (WMM) would "accurately represent the change of the magnetic field" since the last update in 2015.

The revised model was not due to be released until 2020.

NOAA wasn't expecting changes to be needed until 2020, but the magnetic North Pole has apparently been heading further away from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia at an unprecedented rate of 55 kilometers per year.

WMM helps to calibrate accurate geographical data for a host of consumer uses including compass apps, maps, and GPS services found on cellphones and other electronic devices. It also ensures the safe navigation of ships, military and civilian aircraft, as well as search & rescue operations.

Even though the magnetic North Pole has never stayed idle, scientists have been left wondering as to why it has been moving so erratically.

One theory supplied by Livermore to National Geographic may lie buried deep towards the earth's core.



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