North magnetic pole continues its drift

The uncertainty of science: The newest 2020 version of the World Magnetic Model, released on December 10, 2019, shows that the north magnetic pole is continuing its unprecedented drift eastward and away from the Canadian Arctic.

A new and updated version of the WMM is released every five years. The latest WMM2020 model will extend to 2025.

Since Earth’s magnetic field is created by its moving, molten iron core, its poles aren’t stationary and they wander independently of each other. Since its first formal discovery in 1831, the north magnetic pole has traveled around 1,400 miles (2,250 km). This wandering has been generally quite slow, allowing scientists to keep track of its position fairly easily. Since the turn of the century, this speed has increased.

The WMM2020 forecasts that the northern magnetic pole will continue drifting toward Russia, although at a slowly decreasing speed—down to about 40 km per year compared to the average speed of 55 km over the past twenty years.

Though we know the magnetic field is produced by the magnetism related to the Earth’s molten iron core, scientists do not have a solid understanding of the details, including why the drift of the pole has accelerated this century as well as shifted eastward.