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Shifting north magnetic pole forces urgent navigation fix – Times of India

Shifting north magnetic pole forces urgent navigation fix – Times of India

OSLO: Rapid shifts in the Earth’s north magnetic pole are forcing researchers to make an unprecedented early update to a model that helps navigation by ships, planes and submarines in the Arctic, scientists said. The wandering pole is driven by unpredictable changes in liquid iron deep inside the Earth.


“It’s moving at about 50 km (30 miles) a year. It didn’t move much between 1900 and 1980 but it’s really accelerated in the past 40 years,” Ciaran Beggan, of the

British Geological Survey

in Edinburgh, said on Friday.


Beggan said the recent shifts in the north magnetic pole would be unnoticed by most people outside the Arctic, for instance using smartphones in New York, Beijing or London.


Scientists must periodically update the

World Magnetic Model

to map this process, and the most recent version – produced in 2015 – was intended to last until 2020. However, the magnetic field has been changing so quickly and erratically that while conducting a routine check in early 2018, British and US researchers realised drastic steps were needed. The shift they observed was so large it was on the verge of exceeding the acceptable limit for navigation errors.


To account for this, scientists at the British Geological Survey and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are issuing an unprecedented emergency update to the model. An update will be released on January 30, the journal Nature said, delayed from January 15 because of the

US government shutdown

. The changes are essential as the system is used by aircraft, ships and even smartphones.


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