Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The headline is intentionally goofy, but the science is real.
In 2005, National Geographic wrote:
National Geographic now points out that the pole is shifting at the rate of 40 miles, instead of 25 miles, per year.
New research shows the (North magnetic) pole moving at rapid clip—25 miles (40 kilometers) a year.
Over the past century the pole has moved 685 miles (1,100 kilometers) from Arctic Canada toward Siberia, says Joe Stoner, a paleomagnetist at Oregon State University.
At its current rate the pole could move to Siberia within the next half-century, Stoner said.
"It's moving really fast," he said. "We're seeing something that hasn't happened for at least 500 years."
Stoner presented his team's research at the American Geophysical Union's meeting last week in San Francisco.
Lorne McKee, a geomagnetic scientist at Natural Resources Canada, says that Stoner's data fits his own readings.
"The movement of the pole definitely appears to be accelerating," he said.
The shift is likely a normal oscillation of the Earth's magnetic field, Stoner said, and not the beginning of a flip-flop of the north and south magnetic poles, a phenomenon that last occurred 780,000 years ago.