back to article Worried about the magnetic North Pole sprinting towards Russia? Don't be, boffins say, it'll be back sooner or later

Boffins think they have figured out why the magnetic North Pole is heading to Russia at such a relatively speedy rate. It's all down to two gigantic magnetic blobs of liquid iron hidden underneath the Earth’s surface, apparently. Unlike the fixed geographic North Pole, the magnetic North Pole shifts, and we've measured this …

  1. Dinanziame

    I vaguely remember the geographic North Pole also moves a tiny bit (a few meters), due to something called nutation (not a typo).

    1. robidy Silver badge

      Fake news

      Fake news spread by Trump to provide cover for the Russians stealing the pole.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake news

        It's all Obama's fault. The US used to have the best pole, the northernmost pole, it was beautiful. People come up to me and they say "Sir, north is up, that's where it belongs. Up is good, up is strong. And, I tell them we're going to make it strong again, Chinya will not get its hands on the North Pole. Chinya is East. East cause that's where they belong, like Marco Polo."

        (Sorry, my brain started to hurt before I could work in an incoherent Santa reference. I'll go drink some bleach and try this bit again later.)

        1. swm Silver badge

          Re: Fake news

          Winnie the Pooh discovered the East Pole.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. tony2heads

      Earth's rotatation axis with respect to a Reference Pole

      is measured regularly with several techniques - see

    4. Mike the FlyingRat

      @ Dinanziame

      Sure we live on a weeble. (Not a technical term, but a child's toy)

      But ask yourself... what impact does this have on climate change?

      I don't think anyone has studied this to establish a correlation.

      1. RobThBay

        Re: @ Dinanziame

        Or bird migration?

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: @ Dinanziame

          African poles don't migrate.

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: @ Dinanziame

            An African or European pole? (Pole?)

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    The Canadians have sold the Magnetic pole to Putin.

    Niw, he has his magmanauts in unobtanium tugs deep below the earth, towing the pole to Siberia so that he can mine all the magnetism out of it.

    1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

      Why have the lying, fake, mainstream media not mentioned this?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Typical, blame the Russians when this is a ploy by the Canadian government to increase magnetism in the Motherland and slow the speed of our hockey pucks.

      Comrades, we must rise against this threat and put the magnetic pole in the back of the Canadian net where it belongs.

  3. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    Isn't it obvious?!?

    Russia sucks! And America blows!

  4. OssianScotland Silver badge

    <Major Kong>

    Well boys, I reckon this is it: magnetic combat, toe to toe with the Rooskies.

    </Major Kong>

  5. /\/\j17

    "The data shows that the magnetic north pole will continue moving south for a while."

    Am I missing something, but doesn't the ESA video show the magnetic north pole has moved CLOSER to the geographic north pole between 1840 and 2019, something I would struggle to describe as "moving south"?

    We're also long over-due a complete polar inversion I believe. Always wondered if that was a slow (in human terms but still a blink of the eye in geological ones), progressive rotation or it would get to a point and suddenly flip overnight...

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Always wondered if that was a slow (in human terms but still a blink of the eye in geological ones), progressive rotation or it would get to a point and suddenly flip overnight...

      There's a wikipedia article on it which suggests that ~5000 years is a likely timescale, with large variations. Not overnight, though.

    2. Mike Richards

      Magnetic reversals aren't terribly regular so (like volcanoes) they can't be 'overdue'. They seem to follow a broad pattern of a gradual dwindling of the global magnetic field over a few thousand years with the appearance of several local magnetic poles around the globe, followed by a flip and a gradual strengthening of the global field.

      The duration of the reversal itself isn't known with huge precision, but anything between 2000 and 12000 years seems to be the best fit; although at least one paper proposes the most recent Bruhnes-Matuyama reversal about 0.781My was complete within 200 years.

      Though, just to make it more complex, the apparent duration of the reversal in any particular location is incredibly varied as it relies on issues such as the geomagnetic latitude and local non-dipole components of the Earth's magnetic field during the transition.

      God I hated palaeomagnetism when I did my MSc - it's absolutely bloody brilliant - until it isn't. Though it was a damn sight more useful than the radioactive dates I was using which were very much 'pick a number between yesterday and a hundred million years ago' due to hydrothermal contamination. Ooops - I digress.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        with the appearance of several local magnetic poles around the globe

        "I'm the north pole"

        "No, I am the north pole"

        "I am the north pole, and so is my wife."

    3. Cuddles Silver badge

      "Am I missing something, but doesn't the ESA video show the magnetic north pole has moved CLOSER to the geographic north pole between 1840 and 2019, something I would struggle to describe as "moving south"?"

      It moved closer to the geographic pole until about 2017, and has now passed it and is moving south again, but on the opposite side. So it would be a bit misleading to say it has moved south since it's currently further north than it has been for most of recent history, but it's correct to say it is currently moving south.

  6. Pangasinan Philippines

    it’s moved south

    When you're at the geographic north pole, any way is South.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    It's the Atalantians

    They're preparing to open the crust to hoist a great big trash catcher into space to gather all the crap we've put up there because it's interfering with their Instagram connection with Tau Alpha Ceti.

  8. Mystic Megabyte

    Error West, compass best

    Well that's having to be rearranged :(


  9. Kreton

    Climate change follows the drift of the poles

    When I puiblished this I was told it was climate change causing the drift of the poles, no way could the pole drift cause climate changes as only CO2 could do that.

    1. Doug_S

      Re: Climate change follows the drift of the poles

      It only shows the past century or so, where is the data showing the past 1000 years so it can shown whether or not this was true before humans could have been influencing the climate?

      As it is, they can take two graphs that point upwards in past 50 years and claim "they match" but that proves nothing useful. They could produce a graph showing worldwide meat consumption and it would show the same upward trend so would they claim that movements of the pole affect the desire of humans to eat meat?

      1. robidy Silver badge

        Re: Climate change follows the drift of the poles

        Thete's a typo between his usernane and surname...can we therefore assume when this is not the case they speak the truth?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Climate change follows the drift of the poles

        Doug_S, you need a reliably accurate way to measure the movement - and those have not been around for long. And over the sort of distances involved, positional and/or observational error are significant issues.

        Which is why I find the man-made global warming(*) lobby's claims that sea levels have risen by an average of under a centimetre a year hard to believe - with the ocean in constant motion and satellites in constant motion, and changes in the atmosphere affecting the accuracy of the sensors they are using (radio, laser, microwave, whatever), they can detect changes of 0.7mm? They can't even claim to be using the ocean bed as a datum because that's in constant flux too... well, they can *claim* it but that doesn't make it real. (And before anyone starts - yes, the climate changes, it always has and always will, until the heat death of the universe. If anyone really thinks mankind can make that much of a difference by going back to the stone age, why don't they lead by example and go live in a cave?)

        (*) calling it "climate change" instead doesn't make it any more true, or them any less a bunch of snake-oil salesmen and women. The human race and its effects on the environment could disappear overnight and the climate will continue to change...

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge

    A local effect?

    "The moving pole is a local effect and the remainder of the Earth’s magnetic field hasn’t changed much."

    Sounds counter-intuitive. Can anyone explain this in a bit more detail?

    1. Boothy

      Re: A local effect?

      All that's changing is the point on Earths surface, at which the Northern magnetic pole is focused. The overall strength of Earths field, as a whole, hasn't changed.

      You can see that in the 2nd diagram, the right hand image shows the decrease in the Canadian 'hot spot', and an increase in the Siberian one, pulling the pole towards Siberia, but overall the strength is still the same as it was before.

  11. HildyJ Silver badge

    Trump responds

    Trump is preparing an executive order to ban the sale of any magnetic compass which points towards Russia.

  12. Blackjack

    Hold my ice, I am going for a drink in Russia

    In these times, even the magnetic north pole wants a freaking drink.

  13. Bitsminer

    And the South Pole?

    Does it move too?

    1. Boothy

      Re: And the South Pole?

      Yes, they are also not antipodes (they are not exactly opposite each other).

      Have a look at this site:

      Untick 'Isogonic Lines' for a clearer view, and tick 'Modeled Historical Track of Poles' to see the path the poles have taken.

  14. Graham Cunningham

    "from the northern Canadian coast, across the Bering Strait"

    Uh? Has that moved too?

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