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Q&A: Anomaly in Earth’s Magnetic Field

11 Feb 2019, 07:01 UTC
Q&A: Anomaly in Earth’s Magnetic Field Gary A. Glatzmaeir/UCSC

Question: I read this article online about how the Earth’s north pole is suddenly changing its position. What’s up with that, and is it cause for concern? Bad enough we have to worry about climate change. — CH, Milwaukee, WI

Answer: First we need to distinguish between north geographic pole and north magnetic pole since the two are not at the same location. The geographic pole is a point on the Earth’s rotation axis and is relatively fixed, though there is some wobble in the rotation. If you were at that pole and tried using a magnetic compass it would point to a location in the Arctic Ocean near Siberia some 575 km (350 miles) south of the geographic pole. That’s where the magnetic pole is currently located, and that’s the one that’s changing.

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