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North Magnetic Pole Racing Toward Siberia 187

RogerRoast sends along a backgrounder from Scientific American on the best current theory as to why the north magnetic pole drifts. "The NMP, also known as the dip pole, is the point on Earth where the planet's magnetic field points straight down into the ground. Scottish explorer James Clark Ross first located the NMP in 1831 on the Boothia Peninsula in what is now northern Canada... [T]he NMP drifts from year to year as geophysical processes within Earth change. For more than 150 years after Ross's measurement its movement was gradual, generally less than 15 kilometers per year. But then, in the 1990s, it picked up speed, ... bolting north–northwest into the Arctic Ocean at more than 55 kilometers per year. If it keeps going it could pass the geographic north pole in a decade or so and carry on toward Siberia."
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North Magnetic Pole Racing Toward Siberia

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  • by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @01:34PM (#34677416)

    Climate shifts are due to the shifting magnetic properties of the earth's core?


    Thanks for giving me my latest skeptical counter-theory to anthropogenic global warming!

  • by clone52431 ( 1805862 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @01:53PM (#34677562)

    You’re confusing the issue unnecessarily, and you’re incorrect. The “North Magnetic Pole” is the one geographically near to the North Pole, although it is magnetically a south pole.

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @02:02PM (#34677646) Journal

    I think you need to go back and study a little more science.

    First rule of science: go where the data leads you. When we learn more about the way our universe works, we update our thoughts about the way the universe works.

    Second Rule of science: Investigate the sources of reports. If the main source is not a scientist in the field of study, and/or it was paid for by a notoriously insane group that is not respected by the scientific community at large, do not trust. PETA is one such group. They just want people to not kill animals. They don't really care why you don't kill animals, they just want you to not kill animals. So, they try to provide as many reasons why you shouldn't as possible. If you presented them with a "study" that showed them that raising animals to be killed caused the earthquake in Haiti, they would probably post it on their website.

  • Re:Eeep! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @03:09PM (#34678242)

    The funny thing is.... No one knows if this speed-up is a natural cycle, or if there's really something out of whack with the core.

    There being no artificial means of altering the magnetic field of the entire planet, you can rest assured that the speed up is a natural occurrence. /smirk

    As for it being part of a cycle, magnetic pole wandering, and indeed complete reversals, while documented in geology, follow no easily discernible pattern over time, with long periods of stability followed by many reversals over a short period.

    There are some claim the pattern is a Lévy distribution, but this has yet to be proven, and that fact by itself provides no predictive capabilities.

    There is a pretty good wiki article on this. [wikipedia.org] The article includes a time-chart showing reversals of the magnetic field. There are very long periods of stability, as well as periods of frequent short reversals.

    Magnetic Pole reversals happen over a period of time of tens of thousands of years, and a reversal is proceeded by a diminishing of field strength, not necessarily by pole wandering. The current rate of field strength weakening suggests a reversal sometime in the years 3000-4000.

    So the speed up of the NMP's movement is not significant in estimating a reversal, and a reversal does not signify anything out of "whack" with the core of the earth.

    It is a perfectly natural thing that has occurred many many many times. And yes, mankind has lived thru reversals entirely unaware.

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