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As Magnetic North Pole Zooms Toward Siberia, Scientists Update World Magnetic Model

"North is on the move, and that's a problem for your smartphone's maps."

"Earth's geographic north pole is fixed. But the planet's magnetic north pole — the north that your compass points toward — wanders in the direction of Siberia at a rate of more than 34 miles per year."

"That movement may seem slow, but it has forced scientists to update their model of Earth's magnetic field a year earlier than expected so that navigational services, including map-based phone apps, continue to work accurately."

"The drift results from processes taking place at the center of the planet. Molten iron and nickel slosh and spin in the planet's core, essentially serving as a metallic conductor for Earth's magnetic field. Changes in that fluid flow lead to changes in the magnetic field."

"As a result of those changes, the accuracy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's World Magnetic Model (WMM) — a mathematical representation of the magnetic field — slowly deteriorates in the five-year periods between updates."


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