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Where Exactly Is Magnetic North ?

Where Exactly Is Magnetic North ?

Some may remember a story last year about a group of men
engaged in a media event known as,”Row To The Pole.” The original sub-heading(via wayback) at Old Polteney’s official website  is/was  quoted as saying, ”Jock will be leading a small crew in a world’s first attempt to Row to the Magnetic North Pole.”

Fortunately, they didn’t have to go that far. But they didn’t bother to tell anyone either. It wasn’t until after some major news outlets published this supposedly impossible feat that Josh & Co. changed their tune. Today, that same websites’ sub-heading is quoted as saying.”Jock will be leading a small crew in a world’s first attempt to Row to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole.” (Notice that all they did was paste ‘1996 position of the’ in between ‘the’ and ‘Magnetic’.)

Figure 1

Following the story throughout was WUWT.  As you can see in Figure 1, the crew of “Row To The Pole” wasn’t anywhere near the North Pole or Magnetic North. They were off by over 700+ km.  For many, the story ended here. Wishart, for his part, aided Climate Change fanatics in pronouncing the dangers of Anthropogenic Global Warming, and the media did their best to look the other way.

I only bring this story up to segue into a more concerning matter. The matter of confusion as to the location of Magnetic North. My post is not about a polar shift or a conspiracy. I found it necessary to post that two sets of  data from the International Geomagnetic Reference Field seem to question the location of the magnetic pole. Using 2 different generations of references, the speed of drift are identical and the distances are identical, but one set of data is 80km further than the other. But don’t take my word for it. Continue reading.

For those that may not know, the magnetic north pole has been wandering slowly for centuries in the interior of the Canadian far north. Scientists have theorized that the wobbly directions that the magnetic pole has traveled is due mostly to molten iron moving inside the Earths core. Up until the turn of the 20th Century, the direction of the magnetic pole was indiscriminate of any direction.

Here, in Figure 2, is a visual representation of its wandering path before 1900.

Figure 2

Some time around the turn of the Century, the wandering seemed to end. The rather lazy haphazard direction of the magnetic pole decided on a path and off it went. Literally. Annual rate of movement rose dramatically.  It had been determined that for thousands of years, that the pole moved at roughly a kilometer a year.

Based on historical evidence, the pace of movement for the pole in the early 1900’s is estimated at around 6km a year. Today, the British Geological Survey estimates that the pole is traveling nearly 55km annually. Keep in mind that it is just estimated. To better understand the complexities of the movement of the poles, it might be important to understand that pole movement continues to move in a circular motion on a daily basis.

In a single day, the perturbation can exceed 80 km. Include the inability for compasses to work properly for hundreds of miles near magnetic north, and you begin to notice the complexities that are adherent in determining the pole’s location. To help further explain these topics more  in depth, read the tutorial on ‘Geomagnetism‘, written by fellow Alaskan, Whitham Reeve. It is in PDF format.

So, lets now return to my original query. Where exactly is magnetic north? Officially, the International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF), as suggested by the NGDC, places the coordinates for 2012 at   85° 9’14.56″N 135°35’36.79″W. That location was established by the NGDC, using 10th generation modeling. That would be all fine and good, but the British Geological Survey (BGS) also use the IGRF to determine magnetic north. But they use the 11th generation IGRF. The BGS place the coordinates for magnetic north for 2012 at  85°38’8.51″N 142° 9’9.39″W. The following graph illustrates the locations for both estimated locations of magnetic north, as estimated by the NGDC and the BGS, using 10th Generation and 11th Generation estimates, respectively.

The first thing that is visibly clear is the similarity between the two models. They are identical to one another in respect to overall distance(650km) and distances between identical years(76km). The only tangible difference is that the IGRF 11th Generation model places the magnetic pole nearly 80 kilometers farther along the supposed path of drift than the 10th Gen model used by the NGDC. Clearly, there must be a mistake.  Two different generations of  models cannot have identical distances for the same time frame only to have one dataset  roughly 80km further than the other.

In addition, both models, for the years between 2007 and 2010, have a means at 55km-60km/year and a means for 2009-2012 at 48km/year. That is nearly opposite (45km/year 07-10; 55km/year 09-12) from the averages these agencies have been quoted at. (See Figure 3 and Figure 4 below.)

Figure 3

Figure 4


A problem must be associated with the data. Or at the very least, with the modeled data from the NGDC, because the new 11th Generation location of 1995 Magnetic North is now 34km farther than the previous 1996 10th Generation of IGRF.(see Figure 5)

Figure 5

Someone should tell Josh Wishart. I am sure he would like to know that he might have only reached the new and improved 1994 magnetic north.

If you were to ask me what conclusions could I draw from this, I would have to say that nature couldn’t have become so uniform and unnatural in the last 10 years, when the previous two thousand years were completely random and quite natural. Never in the history of geomagnetism has there been such predictable uniformity.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the NGDC or the BGS post some explanation for the error soon.

Good Day,

Alan Bryant

3 responses to “Where Exactly Is Magnetic North ?

  1. Oriole October 27, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Thanks for the intriguing info, please keep following this for us all.
    Because the magnetic field may be close to collapse.

  2. Alex July 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Is the collapse due to the urbanization of these fields? Or global warming?

    • ClimateForAll July 21, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      I don’t see this as a collapse, but as a generation of excited propagation.. I speculate that energy, outside of the geophysical realm is to blame for the polar movement. The path of moving poles is too linear in direction and its speed too expotential to be an anomaly within geophysical parameters.

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