At the end of 2017, it crossed the global date line.
"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", the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Center for Environmental Information wrote in a press release. The last version was released at the end of 2014 and was expected to last until 2020.
Turbulence in in the planet's core, where the motion generates an electric field, has caused the field to change in systems described as "akin to weather". Global Positioning System isn't affected because it's satellite-based.
As a result, navigation systems' magnetic compasses, or magnetometers, are used to provide an accurate estimate of the direction a phone, vehicle, ship or plane is pointing in using what's known as declination - the difference between true north and the direction of the compass. For example, the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska, renamed a runway 1L-19R to 2L-20R in 2009.
Since 1831 when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic it has moved about 1400 miles (2300 km) towards Siberia. However, since 2000, its speed has jumped from 15km per year to 55km per year. Scientists this week have updated the location of magnetic north a year ahead of schedule. In the past century, the direction in which our compasses steadfastly points has moved northward, driven by the Earth's churning liquid outer core.
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Many are in the belief that it changes like the weather. The military depends upon where magnetic north is intended for navigation and parachute drops, whereas NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the US Forest Service use it.
"It's a very slow movement, but it's very real, and over several decades it can be several degrees", said Arnaud Chulliat, geophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder and NOAA. The last time it so happened, with the magnetic north pole getting somewhere near where the magnetic south pole now is, was about 780,000 years ago. It is not a question of if it's going to reverse, the question is when it's going to reverse.
"It didn't move much between 1900 and 1980 but it's really accelerated in the past 40 years", said Ciaran Beggan, of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.
Exactly why the northern magnetic pole is moving at a faster rate is not clear.
"The magnetic field (changes) continuously, but it is partly because of its natural behaviour", he added.
The World Magnetic Model (WMM) is a representation of Earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field shields Earth from some unsafe radiation, Lathrop said.