The Earth’s magnetic fields plays a major role in shielding the planet from solar radiation that can completely destroy the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. These fields, however, are not static and scientists have been trying to predict their movements for over a century. The planet’s magnetic north pole moves by an average of about 30 miles each year towards the north. Keep in mind that the magnetic north pole and geographic north are not the same.
Magnetic North Pole And Affect On WMM
This movement forms the World Magnetic Model which in turn guides our compasses and smartphone GPS etc. The update of the WMM was planned for in 2020 but the US military requested an early update. A new study has given us more information as to why the fields shift and how we can predict these shifts.
The field under discussion exists because of the swirling liquid nickel and iron in the outer core of the Earth. The fields are then anchored by the North and South Pole and their strengths vary depending on what is going on inside the core.
Any change in the liquid metal can cause changes in the magnetic field. Predicting the field shifts has been an extreme challenge. In the latest study, Julien Aubert and Christopher Finlay created simulations of the Earth’s core. The movement of heat from within the core could influence the magnetic field. This happens at about 6 miles each year. The scientists discovered that sometimes that are pockets of the liquid metal that are much hotter and lighter relative to the surrounding liquid. If this difference is density is a lot, then the warmer liquid will rise quickly. This rapid movement can trigger magnetic waves that in turn cause geomagnetic jerks.
Expectations From This Study
So why is this study so important? Militaries, airlines, smartphone GPS app etc. rely heavily on navigation systems based on the WMM. Even when there are periodic updates to the WMM, the geomagnetic jerks make it extremely hard to create a very accurate model.
"Within the next few years, we envision that it should indeed be possible for our groups ... to capture past jerks and predict the future ones with improved accuracy," Aubert said.
We still need more information on the matter, but at least we now know that the experts are on the right track. You can read more about the study here. So, what are your views on the matter? Let us know in the comments below.