Sunday, December 29, 2019

It's an Old Story, But It's an Interesting Story

The story first surfaced a couple of weeks ago, got picked up by Zero Hedge, and then got picked up somewhere I saw it (I thought it was Bayou Renaissance Man, but can't find it in a few searches).

Earth's Magnetic North Pole is Moving Faster Than Ever, Leaving Scientists Baffled.

This didn't happen in the last six months or couple of years, but started in the 1990s.  My first piece on this was August of '16, but the north magnetic pole has been moving faster than ever in recorded history.  Frankly, nobody knows quite what it means.  The sheer speed at which it's happening has never been seen before.
The latest report from NOAA, the “World Magnetic Model” for 2020, shows the pole rapidly speeding in the direction of Siberia. However, the trajectory of the pole will likely change.
They don't say why they believe the trajectory is going to change, though.
NOAA’s National Centres for Environmental Information explained:
“Since its first formal discovery in 1831, the north magnetic pole has travelled around 1,400 miles (2,250 km).
This wandering has been generally quite slow, allowing scientists to keep track of its position fairly easily.”
As recently as 2000, the magnetic North Pole was clocked at moving 6.2 miles per year toward Northern Russia, but data for the next two decades shows the average rate suddenly increasing to roughly 34 miles per year in the same direction, while the latest readings in 2019 show it slightly decreasing to about 31 miles per year.

The World Magnetic Model predicts the average speed will slow down to roughly 25 miles per year from 2020 to 2025.
The path the magnetic pole has taken since 1900 is interesting. 

Take a look near the center of the semicircle; note that the pole has moved through the prime meridian of longitude, 0 and 180, through Greenwich in the UK. This is the first time in recorded history that the magnetic pole has moved from the Western to the Eastern hemisphere. 
Geomagnetic specialist Ciaran Beggan from the British Geological Survey (BGS) told the Financial Times:
“The movement since the 1990s is much faster than at any time for at least four centuries.

We really don’t know much about the changes in the core that’s driving it.”
The more important thing, to me (and I don't even pretend to know anything) is that field is continuing to weaken.  In that 2016 article, that source mentioned that the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than previously thought, decreasing in strength about 5 percent a decade rather than 5 percent a century.  This article mentions that the field continues to weaken.
“The decrease in geomagnetic field is much more important and dramatic than the reversal,” said Dr. Nicolas Thouveny from the European Centre for Research and Teaching of Environmental Geosciences (CEREGE) in Aix-en-Provence, France.
“It is very important to understand if the present field will decay to zero in the next century, because we will have to prepare.”
This website article talks about the possibility of the magnetic field getting weak enough to collapse and the poles to flip, which has happened 100 times in the last 20 million years.
The last reversal occurred between 772,000 and 774,000 years ago. Since then, the field has almost reversed 15 times, called an excursion, dropping in strength significantly but not quite reaching the threshold needed before rising again. This is when we are most at risk—as the field decays and then recovers its strength. The last excursion occurred 40,000 years ago, and evidence suggests we are heading in that direction again.

'The geomagnetic field has been losing 30 percent of its intensity in the last 3,000 years,' said Dr. Thouveny. 'From this value, we predict it will drop to near zero in a few centuries or a millennia.'
Yes, that's the same Dr. Thouveny saying it will drop to near zero in a few centuries to a millennia as who talked about the possibility  it could collapse to zero in the next century two paragraphs up.

I always caution that when people are making predictions about things that haven't been measured with modern instruments, predictions are more like educated guesses.  The fact that the poles flipped 773,000 years ago is based on the best measurements with techniques that are self-consistent and thought to be good.  In my mind, that's still not as good as an ancient scroll or diary that says, "this year, compasses stopped working" followed by an entry some time later saying, "those ancient compasses are consistently pointing somewhere again, but somewhere very different from the hand made signs from before they stopped working."


  1. I've been following the same data. Is it a quirk to Earth or is it common? Yes, the question is rhetorical. I suspect that it has to do with the circulation of magma and sometimes you get a big chunk of really hot material (maybe a giant diamond) there in the core that gets stuck. We have a large moon that churns up the center of the planet, keeps it liquid and moving with tectonic plates floating on it. There is a lot going on.

    1. Maybe we only have ten years left to live?

  2. The thing about this that worries me is the clobbering we'll get from solar radiation if the field drops to zero.

    Might be time to get a lead suit.....or move underground.

  3. So let me get this straight. 'Scientists' are freaking out because magnetic north is pretty much aligning, for the first time since being measured in a modern scientific method, with the axis of rotation.

    And this is wrong? And horrible? And sure to sell the death of all of us?


    Meh. Ever since compasses have been used, we've known that there's some figuring on what true vs magnetic north is. It's one of the many reasons that maritime nation-states, in the past, have set up serious cartography offices and observatories in order to measure and create the most accurate charts possible, and to keep those charts updated, and to keep the updated charts out of the hands of everyone else (shades of 1st and 2nd gen GPS satellites reporting really precise locations to military and not so precise to civilians.)

    Seriously. Unless the magnetic power of the Earth is reducing to a great degree (rather than reducing 0.001% or so,) I refuse to get freaked about anything. It's just what is.

    Reminds me of the 'Ozone Hole' doom of us all... that's now fixed itself.

    Or any of the other panicky stupid stuff used to scare us and to justify some scientists and research groups (run by not-scientists and run for profit, way too much profit) getting huge amounts of tax money.


    Prove me wrong that the mag pole moving is something to be concerned about.

    1. It's not so much the movement, per se, as it is the observations that the strength of the field is weakening. The decline in strength is related more to the poles flipping, I think, than the increase in movement rate is.

      Or maybe the rapid movement is the precursor to the polarity flip.

      Or maybe all three are intimately related in ways we don't understand....yet.

      Same thing with the sunspots. We just don't understand the underlaying process well enough to make reliable predictions......yet.

      Total collapse of the Earth's magnetic field could be a Very Bad Thing, and that's what does worry me.

    2. But that's the thing. How long have we been correctly measuring the magnetic field?

      Sure, we can infer what strength the field may have been at previous times before consistent and accurate measurement has occurred, but how can we really put it in relation to what it should be?

      Maybe the past 100 or so years was a very high magnetic field time?

      Or, even weirder, sunspot activity correlates to strength of the magnetic field. Like, maybe high solar activity actually causes the magnetic field to increase in strength, maybe even charging the spin or powering the core?

      Yes, the field decreasing like it is, by itself is concerning. But then again, the field is decreasing at a time the sun is going quiet.

      I mean, if you can energize a flourescent bulb by holding under high tension lines, or by hitting it with low power from the tracking ship's radar sets (like my dad told me about, during his fun time on range tracking and instrumentation ships) maybe the sun has a charging effect upon the Earth's magnetic core.

      Otherwise, well, we're all gonna die so who cares about man-made global warming, let's go out in style! Or not.

      I just get this feeling that we, as humans, aren't connecting all the dots. Like maybe we haven't even seen all the dots to connect.

      Then there's the uptake on volcanic activity in the Pacific and other 'active' volcanic zones that's been taking place as the field drops. Does a higher field keep volcanic activity down and are related or are they just two un-related things?

      Many questions. Much to ponder.

    3. Beans, I don't think anyone is saying the field is going to reverse and we're all gonna die. To me the only ominous thing in there is that they have no idea what's going on. I think it's interesting when the universe throws us curve balls that we don't expect.

      What stands out here to me is that the field is suddenly weakening 10x fast than it was, 5% per decade instead of 5% per century and that the pole is moving faster than ever observed in the 400 years they've been mapping it. That doesn't say the poles are flipping and it doesn't say "we're all gonna die" but it does say things are going on we've never seen, which says we can learn something from it.

      When they say things like they expect the rate of movement to slow down or the direction of movement to change, I'd like to see how previous predictions have played out. If they predicted the current situation to a couple of decimal places 30 years ago, I'll believe them. Otherwise, not so much.

    4. And didn't NOA or someone just decide to stop making accurate charts?

  4. Past reading from, gosh, I forget where, indicates that when the field weakens, it becomes patchy, reverses, and increases in strength and becomes uniform in the opposite polarity. So, it may not decrease to zero everywhere, but there may be magnetic islands of refuge where there is some protection. Location*3

    1. I saw an article with good graphics that showed the field can (will?) go chaotic, with multiple north and south poles that can be almost anywhere. I don't know how long that can last.

  5. ... shows the pole rapidly speeding in the direction of Siberia ...

    Russian collusion! IMPEACH DRUMPF!!!!!!!

    1. That was my first thought as well - projection I'm sure.

      But for the reversal of the magnetic long does that take?

      Does the earth doddle along for a few centuries getting blasted with solar radiation before the field re- establishes itself? When the dinosaur ruled that probably wouldnt have been the problem it will be now.

    2. That rascal Vlad Putin had a massive south magnetic monopole installed deep underground in Siberia, specifically to draw the north magnetic pole over to Mother Russia, so they can be where all the compasses point!

      But for the reversal of the magnetic long does that take?
      I don't think anyone can really answer that. From what I've read, it's short from a geological standpoint, but long compared to our lifespan. Apparently. It think it's possible a flip could take place in a century, but I don't think I've come across anyone saying it happens within days.

  6. Putin has a monopole?

    We must close the "Monopole Gap"! We need to start building monopoles!

  7. Well, the answer is obvious,or should be, to anyone who has heard of a guy named Newton....Its the WINDMILLS. Looking at the chart, back in 1900 we only had some small inefficient ones in Holland. Now BIG ELECTRICTY has gone and installed them everywhere. Now the normal slippage between the molten core and the outer shell of the earth can no longer compensate for the forces applied to the outer shell by all of these windmills.

  8. When I lived in Alaska ('05) I recall reading about the predicted movement of the pole into Russia. The biggest conclusion then was that the Aurora would go with it.

    Losing the magnetic field during the flip . . . that's the uncharted territory . . . .