There is a storm in the center of the Earth. Almost 2,000 miles below our feet, in the liquid, rotating and spinning iron wheel, which is the nucleus of our planet and generates its magnetic field, it has formed a ray that breaks the material under the # 39; Arctic
This geological burst was enough to send the Earth's magnetic North Pole climbing around the world. The site pointing to a compass pinpoint moves to Siberia at a rate of 30 miles per year.
But, thanks to a political storm in Washington, scientists have not been able to publish an emergency update of the Global Magnetic Model, which GPS mobile telephony systems and military navigators use to target. Approximately half of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials, who host the model and publish related software, are forced due to the partial shutdown of the government, now on the 26th.
As Nature was informed, this week should release the updated model. It has been a minimal change for most of us: the discrepancy between the model and the new location of the North Pole is only measurable for people who try to navigate very accurately and in very high latitudes.
But whenever the NOAA staff is absent and the agency's website is inactive, everyone will have to continue navigating the old model, which is becoming increasingly inaccurate every day.
The exact cause of all this geomagnetic commotion is still a mystery.
Scientists know that the movement of iron into the interior of the Earth generates a magnetic field, and this field fluctuates according to the behavior of these flows. For this reason, magnetic poles on the planet are not aligned exactly with their geographic (which are simply the final points of the Earth's rotation axis), and the location of the poles can be changed without prior notice The records of ancient magnetisms buried in millions of millennia rocks age suggest that sometimes Earth's magnetic field even shifts; The South Pole has been in the Arctic, while the North Pole is where the penguins are now.
When British Navy Explorer James Clark Ross went to the North Pole in 1831, he found him in the Canadian Arctic. An American expedition of the Cold War indicated that the pole 250 kilometers to the northwest. Since 1990, the club has moved 600 miles and last year crossed the international line of data to the eastern hemisphere. (The South Pole has remained relatively stable).
The world magnetic model is updated every five years to accommodate these changes. The next one was not scheduled until 2020.
But the network of magnetometers and satellites that tracked the magnetic field began to send strange signals. The North Pole movement accelerated unpredictably, and the 2015 version of the World Magnetic Model could not continue. The navigation tools that are based on the magnetic fields for orientation are slowly moving to the target. Thus, the American army, which funds the search for the model, requested an unprecedented early review.
Phil Livermore's geophysical research at the University of Leeds suggests that the location of the pole is controlled by two pieces of magnetic field, one below northern Canada and one below Siberia. In 2017, he reported the detection of a liquid iron jet that seemed to weaken the Canadian patch.
This may be what is causing dust to change so quickly, he said in a presentation at the autumn meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December. You have not yet published this research in a magazine reviewed by experts.
"It's very difficult to know what's happening because it's happening 3,000 kilometers below our feet," Livermore said. "And there's a solid rock on the way".
Last summer, it became clear that the discrepancy between the world magnetic model and the real-time location of the magnetic north pole was about to exceed the threshold needed for accurate navigation. NOAA and British Geological Survey researchers, who collaborate to produce the model, spent several months working to analyze the rapid change. Just before Christmas, the two agencies reached an agreement on a new model and prepared to publish their updated version.
And then the government closed.
The British agency could publish some parts of the new model in its place, said William Brown, a Geophysical of BGS that works on the magnetic world model.
But NOAA is in charge of hosting the model and making it available for public use, he said. "This is not currently available".
Some have speculated that the Earth is "backward" by another magnetic field investment. Geological record suggests that these events happen three times every million years, but it has not been produced for 780,000 years, around the time when the first modern humans began to evolve. (A note to the theorists of the conspiracy: these events are almost without any type of relation).
"There is no evidence for that," said Livermore. But the recent chaos in the North Pole "could indicate that something abnormal is happening."
The only way to find out is to keep track of the Earth's magnetic field and try to interpret the signals it sends, Livermore said. Find the exciting uncertainty.
"We sent robots to Mars and put people on the moon, but we do not have an idea of what is happening in the interior of our planet," he said. "It's really an exploration of the unknown."