Drift of the North Pole forces early magnetic map update

Drift of the North Pole forces early magnetic map update

Enlarge (credit:
NOAA
)

On Monday, NOAA announced the release of an update to the World
Magnetic Model, a tool that tracks how the Earth’s magnetic field
changes depending on where you’re located on the planet. Updates to
this system typically happen every five years, but the relatively
rapid motion of the North Pole has necessitated an accelerated
schedule for this update—which then ended up delayed by the
recent shutdown of the US Federal Government.

The Earth’s magnetic field doesn’t neatly line up with the
geometry of our near-spherical planet. In certain areas of the
planet, like the South
Atlantic Anomaly
, the strength of the field varies
considerably. And the magnetic poles frequently don’t line up with
the pole defined by the axis of the Earth’s rotation. Complicating
matters further, the field also changes over time. Over the last
few decades, the largest change has been the motion of the magnetic
North Pole, which has shifted from the Canadian side of the
geographic North Pole to the Russian side.

All of these differences can cause problems for people and
devices that attempt to navigate using the magnetic field. To
compensate, the US’ National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and
the United Kingdom’s Defence Geographic Centre have combined to
build the World
Magnetic Model
. The model is accompanied by software that helps
navigation services adjust to the magnetic field’s quirks. Users
reportedly include Apple and Google, which include it in their
phone software.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Drift of the North Pole forces early magnetic map update