Magnetic North Pole Is Moving Toward Russia at a Swift Pace, Confounding Scientists
Earth's magnetic north pole, which serves as an anchor point for our navigation has been actively moving east from the Canadian Arctic towards Russia, as CNN reported.
The magnetic north pole, unlike geographic poles, is capable of moving and has traveled about 1,400 miles since 1831. However, in recent years, the magnetic north pole has moved at a surprisingly swift pace, confounding scientists looking for an explanation, according to CNN.
The rapid movement of the magnetic north pole forced the researchers who create the World Magnetic Model (WMM) to create a new forecast a year ahead of schedule, according to the WMM press release. The WMM is maintained jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British Geological Survey.
The WMM, pictured above, is a portrayal of the planet's magnetic field that gives compasses dependable accuracy. NOAA NCEI
The magnetic north was moving so swiftly that the WMM released an interim update in February to avoid navigational or operational issues with the discrepancy between where the true magnetic north pole is and where the 2015 model pegged it to be, according to Forbes.
To figure out where the magnetic north is and to create the model, the researchers look at satellite data and data from 160 land-based observatories. The model is updated every five years, so the next one is due in 2025, as Phys.org reported.
The updated model, which is used by the civilian navigation systems the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and U.S. and British militaries, shows the magnetic north pole moving towards Siberia, though it has slowed its pace to 25 miles per year, or 40 kilometers per year, as Forbes reported.
To be clear, when a compass points north, it's pointing at the magnetic north pole, not the geographic pole. In recent years, the magnetic poles and the geographic poles have been closely aligned, but that has not always been the case, as Phys.org reported.
The location of the magnetic north pole stems from geological processes deep under the Earth's crust. The Earth's molten iron outer core moves as the planet spins. The flow of molten iron creates a magnetic field that determines the poles. The magnetic field also protects Earth from solar wind and charged particles from the sun, as Forbes reported.
From time-to-time the magnetic poles flip, meaning that the magnetic north pole is near the South Pole. While has happened a few times in Earth's history, it is a slow and arduous process that takes 22,000 years to complete, which researchers say is much longer than anticipated or expected, according to CNN. The last time polarity reversal took place was 770,000 years ago.
Scientists have figured out these reversals from rock records, ocean sediments, Antarctic ice cores and lava flows. Those samples show researchers how Earth's magnetic field has weakened, shifted, stabilized and reversed over a million years, according to CNN.
"Reversals are generated in the deepest parts of the Earth's interior, but the effects manifest themselves all the way through the Earth and especially at the Earth's surface and in the atmosphere," said Brad Singer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison geologist to CNN. "Unless you have a complete, accurate and high-resolution record of what a field reversal really is like at the surface of the Earth, it's difficult to even discuss what the mechanics of generating a reversal are."
As recently as 2000, magnetic north was moving at just six miles per year. While it has ramped up speed, the movement is unlikely to impact most people, though non-scientists may notice tweaks to GPS applications and runway markers at airports, as Phys.org reported.
Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that as recently as 2000, magnetic north moved just six miles per year, not six miles per hour.
- Arctic Refuge Oil Surveys Put Polar Bears in the Crosshairs ... ›
- Russian Military Responding to Polar Bear Invasion in Arctic Town ... ›
- This Exhausted Polar Bear Wandering a Siberian Suburb Is the ... ›
A tornado tore through a city north of Birmingham, Alabama, Monday night, killing one person and injuring at least 30.
- Tornadoes and Climate Change: What Does the Science Say ... ›
- Tornadoes Hit Unusually Wide Swaths of U.S., Alarming Climate ... ›
- 23 Dead as Tornado Pummels Lee County, AL in Further Sign ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Konisky
On his first day in office President Joe Biden started signing executive orders to reverse Trump administration policies. One sweeping directive calls for stronger action to protect public health and the environment and hold polluters accountable, including those who "disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities."
Michael S. Regan, President Biden's nominee to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, grew up near a coal-burning power plant in North Carolina and has pledged to "enact an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities." NCDEQ
- Report Urges Biden to Reverse Trump's Environmental Rollbacks ›
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ›
- Biden's EPA Pick Michael Regan Urged to Address Environmental ... ›
- Biden Faces Pressure to Tackle 'Unfunded' Toxic Waste Sites ... ›
By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.