The Earth’s magnetic North Pole is travelling at an unprecedented rate and is picking up speed as it moves towards Siberia, according to new satellite data.
The magnetic North Pole is the wandering point on the surface of Earth’s Northern Hemisphere at which the planet’s magnetic field – created by molten iron within the planet’s core – points vertically downwards.
The latest World Magnetic Model, which tracks the movement of the Earth’s magnetic field, shows that the magnetic north is moving at a rate of 30 miles per year.
This is the fastest recorded shift of the Earth’s north since the mid-16th century and could cause havoc for aviation and navigation systems, including smartphone apps that use GPS.
The WMM has also located ‘caution zones’ on Earth around the magnetic fields where compasses may be prone to errors and send users off course.
‘The magnetic North Pole wandered slowly around northern Canada from 1590 to around 1990 and then accelerated over the past 20 years moving from around 10 km (6.2 miles) per year to over 50 km (31 miles) per year,’ Ciaran Beggan of the British Geological Survey told MailOnline.
‘In contrast, the south magnetic pole has barely moved much in the past 100 years as the flow of the outer core there is much more sedate.’
After circling northern Canada for hundreds of years, the approximate location of the magnetic north pole started moving speedily towards Siberia at around the turn of the century.