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The Earth's magnetic field is changing at an increasing rate, throwing off airports and altering the aurora borealis -- and its effect on ordinary compasses could mean the difference between homeward bound and hopelessly lost
Earth’s northernmost magnetic point -- or magnetic north -- is distinct from its geographic North Pole, and scientists have long known that the magnetic poles are on the move
But the magnetic poles have been moving faster lately, sliding towards Siberia at 34 miles per year at a speed that's accelerated 36 percent over the last 10 years, according to the United States Geological Survey, or USGS
Depending on location and journey length, unaware hikers or boaters could find themselves hundreds of miles off course if they don’t calibrate for the shift, experts said
The magnetic shift is costing the aviation and marine industries millions of dollars to upgrade navigational systems and charts, Floridas Sun Sentinelreported.
The polar shift is directly related to the movement of Earth’s magnetic field, which in turn, is related to the movement of Earth’s liquid iron core. The core is in a constant state of convection, or the transfer of heat within fluids. Since the core is convecting, it produces what Love referred to as a “naturally occurring electrical conductor.” And with electric current comes the magnetic field.
Fluctuations in the magnetic field have occurred for hundreds of thousands of years, so the shifting pole doesn’t exactly worry scientists. Sometimes the movement is slow, sometimes fast. The rapidity of the change has to do with the amount of activity going on in the earth’s core. But over time, the axel pole and the magnetic pole eventually equal one another
Add to the ever evolving nature of Earth’s magnetism the fact that the overall magnetic field has been decreasing as well. Scientists have only been able to measure the intensity of the field since the 1830s, but ever since then, its strength has been on the decline, having decreased by about 10% since it was first measured. But for those concerned with this polar shift -- or even a possible polar reversal -- Love says there is no need to worry in our lifetime
scientists from the University of Cambridge have discovered that earlier estimates of 1 degree every year were inaccurate and that the core is actually moving much slower than previously believed -- approximately 1 degree every million years