NOAA releases early update for World Magnetic Model

This week, after a delay caused by the monthlong partial government shutdown in the United States, humans have finally caught up. Scientists this week have updated the location of magnetic north a year ahead of schedule.

NCEI said this out-of-cycle update will, "ensure safe navigation for military applications, commercial airlines, search and rescue operations, and others operating around the North Pole".

In 2009, for instance, the pole was found well within the boundaries of the Canadian Arctic region. A compass points towards magnetic north.

The natural movement of the magnetic North Pole has accelerated in recent years toward Siberia, threatening to throw the world's smartphones and Global Positioning System (GPS) off-kilter. "Unlike the geomagnetic north, this position is more susceptible to the surges and flows in the swirl of liquid iron in the core". Although not a problem for the general population, the effects of a shifting pole are creating headaches for military systems.

One theory supplied by Livermore to National Geographic may lie buried deep towards the earth's core.

The discovery of magnetic north in northern Canada dates back to 1831.

The north magnetic pole - which guides numerous world's navigation systems - was first discovered in 1831 and has been slowly shifting from Canada to Russian Federation ever since.

Since the model is created and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. government shutdown delayed the release of the latest data set.

Not to worry, it's happened before in the past - several times, just not in the last 780,000 years.

The planet's magnetic field is generated almost 2,000 miles beneath our feet, in the swirling, spinning ball of molten metal that forms Earth's core. "Typically, a new and updated version of the WMM is released every five years".

This anomalous variation has forced scientists at the National Centers for Environmental Information to publish their update to the World Magnetic Model (WMM) a year early in order to avoid significant inaccuracies in navigation and positioning.

The next update was due in 2020.

These sporadic changes in direction and speed make it hard for scientists and the WMM to predict what exactly Earth's magnetic field will look like in five years.

Migratory animals, including birds, butterflies and whales, make use of the magnetic field for directions.

'It has changes akin to weather, Mr Lathrop said.

Magnetic field of Earth. Until now, this five year period was enough to keep track of the pole as it slowly moved toward Siberia.

Associated Press material is included in this article.

Vanessa Coleman

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