The Earth's northern magnetic pole is on the move, stumbling unpredictably from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia. It has wandered so much that the current presentation of the 2015 just updated magnetic field of the entire globe is out of date. Geologists have come up with a new model.
This updated model, the so-called World Magnetic Model, was due to be released on January 15, but was now deferred to January 30 due to the government's shutdown.
Following the release, the new model provides a wide range of navigation features, including those who direct planes and ships at people checking Google Maps on their smart devices. [Earth from Above: 1
The World Magnetic Model is one of a few models – another is referred to as an international geomagnetic reference field – the so-called declination, or the difference between true or geographical north (ie the north) poles) and magnetic north (the north) Point where your compass needle points). Knowing this declination for points around the world allows you to convert between a magnetic bearing and a true bearing according to a 2015 model report. This allows you to align ships, aircraft, antennas, drills, and other equipment.
The latest World Magnetic Model should last until 2020, but the rapid and unexpected rise of the magnetic north towards Siberia was so great that researchers had to change that early on, said Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Centers for Environmental Information of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), opposite Nature (19659002). The researchers discovered in the 1800s that magnetic north tended to drift. Then, in the mid-1990s, it moved faster, from just over 15 km per year to about 55 km per year, Nature reported. In 2018, the magnetic north crossed the international dateline and entered the eastern hemisphere.
The unpredictable movements of the North Pole are largely the result of the liquid core of the earth, called liquid iron. (Other factors also play a role, including magnetic minerals in the crust and upper mantle, as well as electrical currents generated by the flow of seawater, but these influences are low compared to the core fields, according to 2015 The World Magnetic Model.)
No one has ever seen the core field, but you can imagine it this way: Imagine a bar magnet in the center of the earth, with two poles: north and south. This magnet today represents about 75 percent of the Earth's surface magnetic field, said Ronald Merrill, professor emeritus of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, who was not involved in the new world magneto-magnetic research. (In reality, electric currents rather than a giant bar magnet in the Earth's core create the magnetic field, but it's easier to imagine this with respect to magnets, said Merrill.)
But the intensity of this so-called bar magnet is, over time, it all sank seven years ago by about 7 percent, Merrill told Live Science. This "bar magnet" is currently moving, tilting slightly less than 10 degrees towards Canada.
The other 25 percent of the magnetic field comes from another field that can be thought of as a bar magnet that moves, Merrill said. In other words, when the giant bar magnet loses its intensity, that other magnetic field gains more influence on Earth's magnetic field. "And that's why this field is moving in the direction [of Siberia]," said Merrill. [Doomsday: 9 Real Ways Earth Could End]
Indeed, the weakening of this giant bar magnet has alarmed some scientists who are wondering if it is a sign that the north and south poles of the earth could topple over, as was the case 780,000 years ago. Such a flip would not happen thousands of years, and it remains to be seen what will happen. However, a study from the year 2018 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found evidence that the earth's magnetic field was previously weakened without tipping over.
However, this slowdown could cause a wobble in the field that could affect technologies such as electronics on board. Earth orbiting satellites, Live Science previously reported.
A magnetic north passing through has other implications. It is likely that the best places to see the Northern Lights will change over time. "In a hundred years, there could be a better place to see the Northern Lights than it is today," Merrill said.
At the moment scientists are trying to figure out why the magnetic north shoots towards Siberia. One idea is that its fast flight is associated with a high-speed jet of liquid iron under Canada, Nature reports.
It seems that this jet weakens the magnetic field under Canada by smearing it, which means that Canada does not. To have a chance against Siberia, Phil Livermore, a geomagnetist at the University of Leeds in England, told Nature.
"The location of the Northern Magnetic Pole seems to be determined by two large magnetic field fields under Canada and one below Siberia," Livermore told Nature. "The Siberian patch wins the competition."
Originally published on Live Science .