Magnetic pole shifting: Compasses in mobile phones will behave weirdly

Pablo Tucker
February 6, 2019

When this happens, the polarity of the field will reverse and north will be south and south will be north. Currently, the magnetic north pole is 4 degrees south of the geographic North Pole.

Earth's magnetic field is now getting weaker, and scientists believe the poles could "flip" at some point in the future.

With the magnetic field of the Earth changing more than predicted, the values can be off requiring an out-of-cycle update such as this.

Why is the magnetic pole moving?


Anyway, magnetic field reversals have typically unfolded over the course of 1,000 years or so - giving plenty of time for even the US federal government to adjust. Over the last 780,000 years, fossil records indicate that the poles have moved and switched a number of times, with no recognizable harm to living organisms. But this time period is not fixed either.

Beneath the molten core is the Earth's solid centre - a ball of tough iron believed to be about two-thirds the size of the Moon.

The magnetic north pole, or south pole, does not coincide with the geographical north or south pole. The Magnetic North Pole describes the point where the Earth's natural magnetic field points inwards and down to the ground. And it went to 34 miles per year (55 kilometers per year), not per hour. It was a year ahead of schedule. The most recent update wasn't due until the end of this year, but unplanned variations in the Arctic region have spurred authorities to push for a new update sooner than planned.

The Earth's north magnetic pole is moving away from the Canadian Arctic and is heading towards Siberia in Russian Federation, said the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


This is something that scientists do not have full clarity on.

The reason which scientists trace back to this shift is the turbulence in Earth's outer core. The study of the phenomena happening inside the earth can only be done indirectly or through computer modelling, because of the extremely hot temperatures prevailing there.

That could bother some birds that use magnetic fields to navigate. Similarly, it is crucial for militaries, who need to know this for firing their missiles or for other purposes.

In the 1900s magnetic north moved less than a hundred feet per day, but in the 1990s this started to increase. Finally magnetic north is what your compass locates. It will reorient itself to the new resultant magnetic north pole. GPS, however, will not be affected as it is satellite based.


"Airport runways are perhaps the most visible example of a navigation aid updated to match shifts in Earth's magnetic field". But then the United States government shut down, placing the model's official release on hold, as Nature News reported earlier. It has released a set of software that will update these instruments to the new positions of the magnetic north pole.

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