Everyone knows the North Pole. This geographic point represents the highest place on earth. But in reality, there are three different “norths” on Earth. The first, called geographical, corresponds to the point of convergence of longitudes on Earth.
He never moves. The second, magnetic, moves chaotically. Finally the last one, that of the maps, is only hypothetical and allows planes and boats to move around the Earth simply.
It is therefore magnetic north that most interests scientists. Indeed its movement is still a mystery, but a study published in the famous scientific journal Nature offers an interesting theory.
According to a team of researchers from the University of Leeds, led by Professor Livermore, the movements of magnetic north are caused by the random flow of molten iron in the heart of our planet.
In the Earth’s core, metals of all kinds are molten. Iron, one of the heaviest and most stable elements in the universe moves much less than the others. But these rare movements have consequences down to the surface.
A “North” in perpetual motion
The scientists thus explain that the movement of a few millimeters of iron in the heart of the Earth can have an influence of several kilometers on the surface. First discovered in 1830, magnetic north has never been perfectly positioned with respect to true north.
This difference has long been explained by the tilt of the Earth on itself. Today magnetic north, which is at the level of Canada, is approaching Siberia faster than before.
Scientists agreed that the movement of the latter was 10 kilometers per year. Today the movement would rather be around 50 kilometers per year. These discrepancies are not without consequences for us.
Sailors and migratory birds: the first concerned?
If the changes in everyday life were to be quite slight, sailors will undoubtedly be the most affected. They are the ones who, along with compasses, use magnetic north the most to find their bearings.
While the latter is in the process of aligning itself with true north, the offsets of one to two degrees are no longer necessary. This change should make navigation easier and more accurate. Migratory birds will also be impacted by this change.
The birds are not likely to get lost
They feel the movements of magnetic north and are guided by it. If this current shift is strong enough, it is however insufficient to lose these birds in flight. They will always find their way once in sight of the coast.
According to scientists from the Ordnance Survey, a magnetic north tracking organization, magnetic north movements are expected to continue throughout the year. The northern trajectory will pass in a few days on the other side of the Greenwich meridian before leaving the English coast by 2025.
The movements of magnetic north: source of many theories
The movements of the magnetic North Pole are scientifically explained (and predicted) today, but some groups of people continue to attribute supernatural powers to such a phenomenon. For many climatosceptics the acceleration of the magnetic north would be caused by a warming of the Sun (so far this is partly true) thus causing global warming.
No scientific study has ever succeeded in finding a link between the movement of magnetic north and global warming in more than 100 years of research, but this idea is still tenable.