The World Forum - April 21st, 2024

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Earth's Magnetic North Pole Follows 'Unusual' Path, Races Towards Siberia


The Earth's magnetic north pole is racing towards Siberia—and it is following an "unusual" and historically unprecedented path on its way.

Experts told Newsweek that the pole could reach the vast Russian region as soon as the middle of the century.

Having said that, the movement of the magnetic north pole is unpredictable and scientists cannot reliably forecast how it will behave beyond a few years into the future. As a result, there is significant uncertainty as to how long it will take to reach Siberia and whether or not it will even get there at all.

The Earth's magnetic field is generated in our planet's liquid outer core, which begins just under 2,000 miles below the surface—roughly halfway to the center.

The field is created by the movement of molten metal—primarily iron—in the outer core, which produces electricity. This mechanism is referred to as the "geodynamo" because it operates in a similar manner to a bicycle dynamo lamp.

Models discussed in a 2020 Nature Geoscience paper indicated that the north pole will continue along its path toward Siberia, traveling between 242 and 410 miles over the course of the 2020s.

But all the experts who spoke with Newsweek said we cannot reliably predict the movement of the magnetic poles beyond a few years, so it is entirely possible that the situation may change.

Because of the large uncertainty of the variation, Earth scientists update the global magnetic field models every five years. The most recent version of what is known as the World Magnetic Model (WMM)—a joint project between the NCEI and BGS—was released in late 2019. Such models are crucial for navigation purposes, as well as other activities.