Navigation | Magnetic post
Saturday, January 12, 2019, 14:48 – Rapid changes in the Earth's north magnetic pole are forcing researchers to do an unprecedented initial upgrade to a model that helps navigate ships, airplanes and submarines in the Arctic, scientists said.
The compass's needles point to the magnetic north pole, a spot that has unpredictably crawled off the coast of northern Canada a century ago, into the middle of the Arctic Ocean, moving toward Russia.
"It is moving at about 50 kilometers a year. It has not advanced much between 1900 and 1980 but has accelerated in the last 40 years," Ciaran Beggan of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh told Reuters. .
A five-year upgrade of a World Magnetic Model was planned for 2020, but the US military called for an unprecedented early review, he said. The BGS runs the model with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Beggan said the mobile pole affected navigation, especially in the Arctic Ocean, north of Canada. NATO and US and British military are among those using the magnetic model as well as civilian navigation.
The Northern Lights is seen on a mountain camp north of the Arctic Circle, near the village of Mestervik, Norway, September 30, 2014. Credit: REUTERS / Yannis Behrakis
The wandering pole is driven by unpredictable changes in the liquid iron inside the Earth. An update will be released on January 30, Nature magazine said, postponed from January 15 due to the US government's shutdown.
"The fact that the pole is going fast makes this region more prone to big mistakes," said Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado Boulder and NOAA's National Environmental Information Centers.
Beggan said that recent changes in the north pole of the country would not be perceived by most people outside the Arctic, for example, using smartphones in New York, Beijing or London.
Car navigation systems or telephones rely on satellite radio waves above Earth to identify their position on the ground.
"It does not really affect middle or low latitudes," Beggan said. "It really would not affect anyone driving a car."
The Northern Lights are seen on a mountain camp north of the Arctic Circle near the village of Mestervik on October 1, 2014. Credit: REUTERS / Yannis Behrakis
Many smartphones have built-in compasses to help guide maps or games like Pokemon Go.
In most places, however, the compass would be pointing only faintly wrong, within the mistakes allowed in the five-year models, Beggan said.
Report of Alister Doyle.
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