"The Earth Seen From Apollo 17" by NASA / Public Domain

Earth’s Magnetic Pole Is Wandering, Lurching Toward Siberia

Jan 14, 2019

By Laura Geggel

Earth’s north magnetic pole is on the move, unpredictably lurching away from the Canadian Arctic and toward Siberia. It’s wandered so much, that the current representation of the entire globe’s magnetic field, just updated in 2015, is now out of date. And so, geologists have come up with a new model.

This updated model, called the World Magnetic Model, was supposed to be published Jan. 15, but it’s now been delayed to Jan. 30, on account of the government shutdown.

Once it’s made public, the new model will inform a wide array of navigation, including those directing airplanes and ships to people checking Google Maps on their smart devices.

The World Magnetic Model is one of a handful of models — another is called the International Geomagnetic Reference Field — that track so-called declination, or the difference between true, or geographic, north (that is, the North Pole) and magnetic north (the point where your compass needle points). Knowing that declination for points across the globe allows one to convert between a magnetic bearing and a true bearing, according to a report on the 2015 model. In that way, ships, aircraft, antennas, drilling equipment and other devices can be oriented.

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