Earth's northern magnetic pole shifting

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)--- The earth's magnetic poles are on the move.

"The current pole is on the other side of the International Dateline. It used to be on the North American side, in northern Canada, but it has officially crossed over on the Siberian side," said Brian Meyer, Data Manager for the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science.

It's a common occurrence, but it's happening faster than projected.

"We noticed that we had underestimated the speed of the North Pole," said Meyer.

The magnetic poles are controlled by the swirling of liquid iron deep in the outer core of the planet.

"There's a number of eddy currents just spinning waves and currents in the earth's outer core. These change over time. There are two, in the north polar region of the core, that kind of govern the behavior of the North Pole," said Meyer.

The poles have swapped many times throughout the earth's history.

"The average is around 600,000 years, the poles will flip and this has happened dozens of times," said Meyer.

It won't bring any biological changes, but it'll change the way we navigate.

"The magnetic field is primarily used for navigation so when the pole moves unexpectedly that pointing accuracy can be off," said Meyer.

So, if you look at a compass this year, and check that same compass next year, North will be in a different location. Every five years scientists map out the ever-changing magnetic north pole in order to account for the changes and keep navigational tools on the right path.

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