The North Magnetic Pole is moving and scientists can finally find out why. It is easy to think of the geological poles of the earth as a set feature of rock (or ice), but both poles are not stable and flow in a steady state.
Since it was first recorded by scientists in the 1830s, the North Magnetic Pole has been traveling from Canada to Siberia for about 2,250 kilometers (1,400 miles) at the upper end of the Northern Hemisphere. Between 1990 and 2005, the rate of this movement increased from less than 15 kilometers per year to 50 kilometers per year.
A new study published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience argues that changes between the two magnetic “blobs” of molten matter inside the planet can be explained by toe- inning, and fro-inning, leading to a titanic change of magnetic field.
The north magnetic pole is the point at which the earth’s magnetic field points vertically downwards, determined by molten iron that flickers around the earth’s interior through convection currents. The recent migration to Siberia, it seems, was caused by a blink of an Earth’s internal flow pattern that occurred between 1970 and 1999. As a result of the change, the Canadian bulb lengthens and loses its influence in the magnetic field, causing the pole to zoom in towards Siberia.
Dr. Phil Livermore, the lead study author from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds in the UK, explained to BBC Radio 4’s Today program, “What we discovered is that the position of the North Magnetic Pole is controlled by two patches of magnetic field – one below Canada and one below Siberia – and they act as a war effect by controlling the position of the pole.”
He added, “Now historically, the Canadian patch has won the war and that’s why the pole has become Canada-centric. Over the past few decades, the Canadian patch has weakened and the Siberian patch has become somewhat stronger.” “This explains why the pole has suddenly moved away from its historical position.”
Researchers have come to this conclusion using data collected by the European Space Agency (ESA) Swarm satellite. This trio of satellites orbits the Earth and accurately measures the origins, cover, crust, and oceans of our planet, as well as the magnetic signals received from the ionosphere and magnetic space. It is not only important to look at the earth’s magnetic field for abstract scientific research; the magnetic field acts as the ideal of geomagnetic energy that protects the earth from destructive solar radiation. This is a must for many navigation systems from sample compass to GPS.
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