Since then the magnetic north pole has been moving across the Canadian Arctic towards Russian Federation, and has moved hundreds of miles over the last several decades. The point is moving approximately 55km every year and in 2017 it moved past the global date line, the point of longitude in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that is the crossing point between 11.59pm on one day and 12am on the next.
The north magnetic pole has been drifting so fast that it could be a problem for smartphone maps and navigation systems.
NOAA explained that the WMM is updated every five years, but due to the shift of the pole, scientists were forced to publish the WMM update a year earlier.
Global Positioning System isn't affected because it's satellite-based, but airplanes and boats also rely on magnetic north, usually as backup navigation, said University of Colorado geophysicist Arnaud Chulliat, lead author of the newly issued WMM. Navigation systems in cars or phones rely on radio waves from satellites high above the Earth to pinpoint their position on the ground.
Airport runways are named with numeric identifiers based on where magnetic north is. For example, the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska, renamed a runway 1L-19R to 2L-20R in 2009.
Since the pole was first measured in 1831, it has moved an estimated 1,400 miles (2,300km) towards Siberia.
This phenomenon was first observed in 1831 when the speed of such shift was just 9mph however, after the year 2000 it has changed to 34 miles per hour.
"This out-of-cycle update before next year's official release of WMM 2020 will ensure safe navigation for military applications, commercial airlines, search and rescue operations, and others operating around the North Pole", officials at NCEI wrote in an update. The movement of liquid iron and other metals in the outer core of the Earth is known to influence the magnetic field, but this movement is chaotic and turbulent.More news: Federal prosecutors seek documents on Trump inauguration ceremony
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"Due to unplanned variations in the Arctic region, scientists have released a new model to more accurately represent the change of the magnetic field between 2015 and now", said NOAA in a news release on February 4.
To understand what just happened, let us begin with understanding what the magnetic north is?
The magnetic north pole's movement over the past five decades.
Earth's north magnetic pole is on the move, and it's moving so quickly scientists are struggling to keep up as it moves towards Siberia.
NASA said: "The last time that Earth's poles flipped in a major reversal was about 780,000 years ago, in what scientists call the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal".
Why is the magnetic pole moving?
That's because the planet's magnetic field won't stay put.
The swarm mission involves the magnetic-field mapping satellites that zip around Earth 15 to 16 times each day.
The field also protects the Earth from deadly solar radiation, though there's no concern that function will be affected by the shifts, Fiori said.