Despite popular belief, the geographic north pole — the northernmost point on the Earth’s surface — is actually not the same as the magnetic north pole— the point at which the planet’s magnetic field points down vertically.
Traditionally, the magnetic north pole has been located within the Canadian Arctic, but it has moved slowly to Siberia at a rate of 34 miles per year over the past 20 years.
According to the latest data published by the National Environmental Information Centers and the British Geological Survey, this movement is likely to continue for many years to come, although at a slightly slower speed of 20 miles per year.
Accurate data is essential to the operation of GPS navigation systems.
The explanation for the displacement of the magnetic north pole is due to a weakening of the planet’s magnetic field, but why such a decline would occur is not fully understood.
Several scientists believe that the field will finally flip over completely on its axis, meaning that there will be a successful reversal of north and south-something that happened several times before.
Though, it is uncertain when this will occur or what effect it will have on human civilization.
“It’s not a question of if it’s going to reverse, the question is when it’s going to reverse,” said Ciaran Beggan of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.