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The Accelerating North Pole.


We all know that the earth's magnetic field is constantly moving, but apparently its also accelerating. The location of the magnetic pole been heading from Canada towards Siberia since the 1800s, but is now moving at something like 55 km/year.

So fast is the movement that the NOAA in the US has rushed out an updated map showing its new location, along with detailed information for the magnetic declination - the values that observers around the works have to add or subtract from their compass readings to figure out where true north actually is.

They usually release 5-yearly maps, and the next one wasn't due until 2020, but recent measurements had shown that the 2015 readings were no longer within an acceptable margin of error, meaning everything from shipping to airplanes to our smartphones were confused about where they were and - worse - where they were going!


Nature has the full story here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00007-1


I also discovered these maps in the NOAA website, showing the location now - and how it has moved since the 1590s. https://maps.ngdc.noaa.gov/viewers/historical_declination/


Interestingly the announcement was delayed by several weeks by the US government shutdown. An example of the sort of quiet - but extremely important - scientific work done by governments around the world that doesn't always get the kudos it deserves.

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