Earth’s north magnetic pole is so out of whack that scientists need to update the global magnetic-field model they released only four years ago. Could that be a sign that the magnetic pole will flip soon?
The World Magnetic Model (WMM) — the name of the updated representation of the magnetic field of Earth — is expected to be released no earlier than Jan. 30. That’s about two weeks later than planned, with the delay due to the government shutdown, according to a report in Nature.
The magnetic pole is moving erratically out of the Canadian Arctic and toward Siberia so unpredictably that it took scientists by surprise. That 2015 update was supposed to remain valid until 2020, Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information, told Nature. [Earth’s Colorful Atmospheric Layers Photographed from Space]
It’s no news that the pole is moving; long-term records from London and Paris (kept since 1580) show that the north magnetic pole moves erratically around the rotational north pole over periods of a few hundred years or longer, Ciaran Beggan, a geophysicist with the British Geological Survey who is involved in WMM updates, told Space.com in an email. He cited a 1981 study from the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.
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