Where In The World Is … The North Pole?

February 7, 2019

If we tallied up interesting facts we shared this month at Xyza, this one would most definitely top the chart! You probably know of the north pole and the south pole, the northernmost and southernmost tips of the globe. When you stand in the south pole, pretty much everything will point north because, well, you are at the southernmost tip. And the opposite applies to the north pole.

United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Strang [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
But if you started heading towards the precise north pole, it might not be where you imagine it to be. You see, most people assume the north pole is at the northernmost tip of the globe. Until recently, it was actually somewhere in the Arctic Ocean. More than 150 years ago, it was somewhere near Canada. And this month, the north pole was reported to have moved yet again. You see, the north pole has been moving about thirty miles a year, and it has moved, yet again in the past five years, closer to Siberia.

What makes this news interesting is that the north pole is moving faster than before. While the fact that the pole moves is not unusual (it has, after all, been moving for decades), the reason that the north pole moves have been debated for years. Some scientists believe it could be due to a disturbance in the outer core of the earth. You see, deep inside earth’s core is molten iron and steam streams that reach seriously high temperatures. This liquid iron creates a magnetic field that protects planet Earth’s surface from radiation. Perhaps a disturbance in this outer core is causing the movement of the north pole?

Incidentally, the magnetic field is also what causes the aurora borealis in the night sky!

Note: In this article, we are referring to the Magnetic North Pole and not the Geographic North Pole. The Geographic North Pole does not move. It is the northernmost tip of the axis of Earth’s rotation. The Magnetic North Pole, on the other hand, does move. It moves because the rotational speed of Earth’s core and that of Earth’s surface is different, causing a magnetic field. This magnetic field is what that needle in your compass is attracted to—Earth’s Magnetic North Pole. Cool, right?