What are the Implications for Climate of Recent North Magnetic Pole Activity?

Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

The headline says,

Scientists warn Earth’s magnetic North Pole has begun moving ‘erratically’ at speeds so fast they are having to issue an emergency update to maps used by electronic navigation systems

It is another story that implies a normal event is abnormal. The magnetic pole is always moving, and this rapid movement is not new; recent but not new. Look at the diagram (Figure 1) included in the report. Notice that it moved more between 2000 and 2010 than is estimated for 2010 to 2020. (Some joke here about fleeing increasingly socialist Canada for increasingly capitalist Siberia.)


Figure 1

I gathered practical knowledge about the North Magnetic Pole and the Earth’s magnetism when flying Search and Rescue in the Canadian Arctic. There was a line on our maps with a caption that read, “Compasses unreliable beyond this line.” The reason is that a compass needle, balances on a point, and moves around to align itself with the Earth’s magnetic lines of force. As you approach the pole the lines ‘dip’ until they go straight down, known as the dip angle. Accurate readings become increasingly difficult and therefore “unreliable.”


My next involvement came from teaching. The concept of continental drift was new and controversial. People could not imagine continents moving around, and there was no empirical evidence. That changed in 1963 when Vine and Matthews published their work on magnetic stripes on each side of a ridge where the plates were separating (Figure 2).


Figure 2

This led to a plethora of papers and research, which tested the hypothesis using the proper scientific method. It is now widely accepted. One piece of research used the alignment of the lines of magnetic force to determine the position of the pole. Some minerals, such as magnetite, are more sensitive to magnetism than others. As the magma reaches the surface along the ridge and becomes lava, it begins to cool. Before cooling the minerals align themselves with the magnetic field. This is locked in at a critical temperature in the cooling process known as the Curie Point.

The plots of the direction of changing magnetic lines appeared to show the pole moving. The phenomenon was called polar wandering because people could not imagine that the pole stayed approximately in the same place and the continents moved around it. From the knowledge that the continent moved, these lines allowed reconstruction of plate movement.

Do not confuse this with the current magnetic pole movement. People have known for hundreds of years that the Earth has a magnetic field with a north and south pole. The Chinese used the magnetic properties of rocks like Lodestone, which is actually magnetite, to determine the direction and thus become the first compasses.

Another phase of my involvement with magnetism came through climate research. I used the Hudson’s Bay Company journals to reconstruct an extensive historical climate record. I also worked with Sam Bawlf providing climate reconstructions for his book The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake. All of this involved and extended my Air Force learning and interest in navigation.

The Elizabethans knew an amazing amount about magnetism. One of the greatest but least known scientific treatises is William Gilbert’s 1600 AD masterpiece De Magnete. The ongoing struggle would not exist if the North Magnetic Pole and the True Pole were coincident, but they are not. If you are determining direction using a compass and using maps drawn geometrically to the True Pole, you must constantly correct for the variation between the two. That is difficult enough, but the fact the Magnetic Pole is constantly moving complicates it. This is the challenge of today’s reported movement and adjustment of navigation devices.

Besides all of this movement of the Poles, there is another change that appears imminent. People are always amazed to learn that periodically the Earth’s magnetic field reverses. The current situation is called Normal, and opposite polarity is called Reverse. These changes were recorded in the lava as it cooled and identified two situations, a brief reversal called an Event and a prolonged period called an Epoch in which the Normal or Reverse condition dominates (Figure 3).


Figure 3

The immediate question is what creates the Earth’s magnetic field? Before the discovery of reversals, people thought the Earth was a giant rotating dynamo. The problem with that is a reversal would require the rotation stop and start up in the opposite direction. There is no evidence for that proposition. The more likely explanation is that each of the Earths inner shells, from the Solid Inner Core to the Liquid Outer Core, through the Mantle, rotate at different speeds and each induces a magnetic field (Figure 4). The net interaction of the fields causes the pattern of reversals.


Figure 4

It is not known how long it takes because of crude recording of the reversal, and different measurements give different results. The National Science Foundation says it takes 7000 years.

I hope this is true because in an appearance before the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Ozone I used the threat of a reversal as an example of how science works. Initially, I turned down the invitation because I was not an expert on ozone. Besides from previous experiences I knew they did not want to learn, they only wanted information to confirm their prejudices. They told me it was a legal order, so I went. I broke the rules because it was clear they knew nothing about the scientific method. They didn’t even know that a presenter in my group was using computer model generated ozone data for Toronto when there was no real data. I told them that the so-called hole-in-the-ozone was itself an untested hypothesis.

I explained that any scientist could take a few facts and generate a hypothesis. The scientific method requires other scientists, acting as skeptics, to challenge the hypothesis, normally by disproving one or more of the basic assumptions. I pointed out that I could generate dozens of life-threatening hypotheses. For example, the Earth is slowing down in its speed of rotation, the Earth’s magnetic field has weakened for the last 1500 years (Figure 5), and this appears to indicate a magnetic reversal is imminent, and some scientists claim that during previous reversals extensive extinction of species occurs. I wanted to know what my government is planning to do about it. I pointed out that their challenge is an inability to deal with all these threats, complicated by an inability to understand the science and prioritize them appropriately. Exploitation of environmentalism and emotionalism for a political agenda complicates it further.


Figure 5

The recent more rapid movement of the Magnetic Pole coupled with the weakening of the Field suggests significant changes that might presage a reversal. Regardless, it also raises the question about the impact of the magnetic field on weather and climate. My prejudice is based on the use of the aurora by indigenous people to predict weather patterns across northern an Arctic Canada. We know that the aurora activity correlates with sunspot numbers. Further evidence of a relationship was the appearance of cracks in the magnetic field with no sunspots, although, again it is only a correlation.

Sir Edmund Halley (1656-1742) was sent to Scotland by the Royal Society to investigate reports of the reappearance of the aurora. He knew about these phenomena, but in an interesting twist of history, his life spanned most of the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age. In his report to the Society, he gave thanks for living long enough to witness their return.

Of course, correlation is not cause and effect, but we now know the aurora are the result of interaction between the solar wind and gases, especially oxygen and nitrogen in the upper atmosphere. We now know the aurora are a direct result of electrons interacting with the magnetic field.

I hope we will see some enterprising open-minded research done on these manifestations of change to determine the mechanisms. I previously hypothesized that changes in upper-level circulation, especially the subtropical easterlies and the mid-latitude westerlies are due to changes in pressure on the magnetic field and all underlying atmospheric layers by the solar wind. We know the solar wind compresses the magnetic field on the up-Sun side (Figure 6), so it is logical that variation in the solar wind causes variation in the amount of compression creating a bellows-like effect.


Figure 6

Exploitation of the normal as abnormal by the mainstream media triggered this article. It is speculative and designed to stimulate a wider debate that does not occur because of specialization. The Magnetic Pole event allows me to identify the facts and correlations known to disparate sections of science. Because of the tunnel-vision of the IPCC, it is time to take a large portion of the money the Democrats will direct to ‘proving’ IPCC claims, and identify other major mechanisms that far exceed any possible influence of human CO2 on climate change.

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Tom Halla
January 13, 2019 6:20 pm

For what looks like the majority of the past five million years, “reversed” was prevalent.
However, I lack the imagination to predict how a magnetic pole reversal could be spun as a disaster requiring a massive tax increase, so I would not make a proper green.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 13, 2019 6:28 pm

Canadian Geese/Ducks would fly south in the Spring end up in Cancun Mexico with the Spring breakers. Or fly north in the fall, end up in southern Siberia. Or something like that. End of the world stuff.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 6:51 pm

I imagine you may have an implied /sarc tag in there, Joel, but given that geese are thought to have evolved around 66 mya, I guess that they have “been there, done that”

Still it’s always good to have new catastrophes to worry about. This one won’t fly because there’s no human activity to blame (and tax).

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Rich Davis
January 13, 2019 7:02 pm

did that need a /sarc tag? (Or was the “Or something like that.” a giveaway?)

I love ducks and geese. And they have little magnets. Biology + Magnetism… Cool stuff.
Maybe some whales too.

Richard G.
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 7:25 pm

The Horror*gasp*. Whales flying south because of animal magnetism!

Gene Selkov
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2019 11:27 am

“Obstacles to progress in the field of animal navigation include what is still a poor level of knowledge about the mechanism of magnetic reception and about the physiological effects of experimental magnetic treatments, as well as the widespread but groundless opinion that animals possess a magnetic map”


A newer paper describing a failure to find reliance on magnetism: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1578712/

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2019 12:50 pm

Climate change + Poles change == lots of stranded whales.

Charly PB
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 15, 2019 6:26 pm

Whales are close to mastering the external combustion engine, which will allow them to fly in any direction they please.

Reply to  Rich Davis
January 13, 2019 7:16 pm

“been there, done that”

Like the birds in the Southern Hemisphere?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Rich Davis
January 13, 2019 7:29 pm

“because there’s no human activity to blame (and tax).”

Oh you poor misguided Realist. Of course there are humans to blame.

Polar Magnetism is after all just a hetero-normative white Euro male construct.

So I ask: Why are you so biased against bipolars? And unipolars? And Questioning polars?
And I guess multi-polars are just so outside your bigoted view.
You probably even hate Polar Bears!!
(and everyone love Polar Bears)

Oh… you are **So Gonna Pay**. A magnetism tax for sure.

(do I need a /sarc?)

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 7:39 pm

After the article on fact mongers, you definitely need to signal your sarcasm.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 7:54 pm


That’s like going to comedy show and having to hear the comedian Preface every joke and satire with a disclaimer.

So many people have lost he ability to reason in our New World of Snowflakes.

Mark Twain would soooooo not fit in in our Brave New World today.

(and Samuel Clements wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn understanding clearly how his generation’s abject racism would look to coming generations. Every scholarly reading of his Huck Finn understands that Mr Clements was making a clear condemnation of his world’s racism/bigotry. Yet today, so many schools today ban Huck Finn from their libraries** because it uses the language of then so we can understand the racism of the past. We live in strange times of screwed-up Progressive history re-writers run amok.)

** http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/banned-adventures-huckleberry-finn/

Russ R.
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 9:20 pm

The polar bears are going to get so fat they fall through the “multi-year ice”, when the penguins arrive from the South Pole!

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 11:40 pm

(and everyone love Polar Bears)
One only need look at polar bears to see white supremacists. Polar bears are also clearly racists. Having driven out the brown and black bears there is even talk of bringing back the mile high wall of ice.

To couneract these unnatural forces, the truedope government has gone so far as to introduce gender sensitivity training to help acceptance of the LMFAO+ community within the wider polar bear population.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2019 12:03 am

Oh you are so going to Liberal Hell for that blasphemy Ferd.

Enjoy the feather tickles from Swedish bikini team virgins.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2019 8:58 am

Oh you poor misguided Realist. Of course there are humans to blame.

Polar Magnetism is after all just a hetero-normative white Euro male construct.

Moving “pole”, obviously toxic-masculine, phallic reference. This just goes to show that even magnetism is “non binary” and its movement is “gender fluid” not “cispolar”.

We should be welcoming the fact that it is about to “transition”. If this means the world is upside down, I doubt anyone will notice any more. The “progressives” have got us used it by now.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2019 5:53 pm

“Samuel Clements”


Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Rich Davis
January 14, 2019 9:13 am

There are lots of things about “bird migrations”, …. especially water fowl such as ducks and geese, that many people think they understand but they really don’t.

It is their inherited biological urge to procreate, plus the number of “daylight” hours and the impending “weather” that triggers the bi-yearly migrations. And it is the abundant food supply, mild temperatures, unlimited nesting sites and lack of predators that attracts the ducks, geese, swans, etc., to the norther areas of Alaska, Canada and the Arctic in general. And if similar year-round locales of a minor scale are located in the lower latitudes, said ducks and/or geese are likely to become year-round residents of said locale.

Iffen you think you know why the ducks, geese, etc., migrate to the northern latitudes for nesting, egg laying, incubation and chick rearing, …… then maybe you should try to figure out why the Emperor penguins will, at the start of the Antarctic winter, walk from 31 to 75 miles inland from the edge of the pack ice to their pre-selected nesting site. Do you pose that might be an “inherited instinct” that evolved before Antarctica moved to its current location at the South Pole and became covered in ice and snow?

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 14, 2019 3:31 am

The global temperature anomaly is associated with the changes in the intensity of the Earth’s magnetic dipole
Eart’s dipole
and not with either of two individual poles.
a href=”http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/DNS.gif “> N&S poles
The North pole appears to be responsible for ~ 60 year quasi-periodic oscillation (North Atlantic Anomaly – AMO)
While the South pole might be responsible for the recent warming period.
Correlation is high, but no fully validated mechanism is obvious at the current stage of understanding.
Dipole’s data

Reply to  vukcevic
January 14, 2019 3:38 am
Reply to  vukcevic
January 14, 2019 3:52 am

link to the polar components

Reply to  vukcevic
January 14, 2019 9:23 am

North Pole Projections
South Pole Projections
The real magnetic field is quite different, as can be seen in the next set of three diagrams.
The observed magnetic field is highly asymmetrical.
Lines of inclination are highly elliptical, with the North Magnetic Pole situated near one end of the ellipse.
The strength of the magnetic field is no longer a maximum at the North Magnetic Pole. In fact, there are now two maxima, one over central Canada, the other over Siberia.
Magnetic meridians do not converge radially on the North Magnetic Pole.

Lewis Lydon
January 13, 2019 6:20 pm

GR8 stuff! Thank you!

Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 6:23 pm

Imminent pole reversal could mean tomorrow or anytime in the next 50,000 years. Not very useful. Like CO2 and climate change, not very useful in the Pleistocene Ice Age.

But rest assured, if it happens tomorrow, the climate Socialists will claim Climate Change made its downside worser (sic). (or Worsest? or more worser?)

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 9:09 pm


Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Nylo
January 13, 2019 11:42 pm

and bigly gignormous.

Ron Long
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2019 2:25 am

Good posting Dr. Tim. Don’t worry, Joel, it won’t happen tomorrow. I previously commented about a helicopter-draped magnetic survey that didn’t show a large body of magnetite skarn at the surface. The adjacent, genetic source of the iron, intrusion was normally polarized, but the skarn was not visible on the magnetic anomaly map. Investigation showed it was reversely-polarized. Considering cooling rate, formation temperatures, and the Curie Point, it appears that tens of years, maybe up to one hundred years, were required to have a useful reversal. Look at the top line in fig. 2, it also suggests a significant time to complete a reversal. When/if we see a magnetic reversal, here’s a tip: don’t go outside and stare up into the sky. Just saying.

January 13, 2019 6:32 pm

What if it’s the reverse. Suppose the general atmospheric circulation creates the magnetic field, or a component of the total field?

Curious George
Reply to  ScarletMacaw
January 14, 2019 7:51 am

Don’t get distracted. The important thing is, blame Trump!

Bill In Oz
January 13, 2019 6:36 pm

“We’ll all be ruined”
Said Hanrahan,
By all this magnetic
Pole shifting
We must do something !
Anything !
To Stop it…

Attributed to Al Gore, thankfully a former VP of the USA. 🙂

a happy little debunker
Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 14, 2019 1:03 am

Many here will be asking ‘who the hell is Hanrahan?’


For other climate related observations from poetry I would also suggest Dorothy Mckellar


January 13, 2019 6:40 pm

There is an annoying practical complication when the magnetic north pole moves. Airport runways sometimes have to be renamed. link Runways are named after their magnetic bearing to the nearest ten degrees.

Airport runway numbers are not arbitrary, like street names. They actually designate the runway’s direction. The system is simple: take your magnetic compass direction (in degrees from zero to 360), round off to the nearest 10 and drop the zero. Pilots can see the runway’s designation right on their own aircraft compasses.

Fun fact: I can honestly say I’ve been to the north pole. 😉
Other fun fact: Runways have two designations, one for each possible bearing. It gets funner when there are parallel runways. Toronto Person has 06L-24R and 06R-24L.

Reply to  commieBob
January 13, 2019 6:52 pm

You beat me to it… 🙁

Reply to  rbabcock
January 13, 2019 6:56 pm

That happens if you take the time to put some actual thought into your comment rather than just dashing something off.

David A
Reply to  commieBob
January 14, 2019 7:57 am

Publish or perish Bob.

Gary Miller
Reply to  commieBob
January 13, 2019 8:50 pm

And Seattle Tacoma has 16L, 16R and 16C as well as 34L, 34R and 34C!

Reply to  Gary Miller
January 13, 2019 11:19 pm

Orange County Airport has 1L, 1R, 19L and 19R.
LAX is trickier. four parallel runways, 6L, 6R, 7L, 7R. And obviously the inverse.
SNA (Orange County is where I learned to fly in the ’70s.

Richard Patton
Reply to  KaliforniaKook
January 13, 2019 11:41 pm

Technically 6L, 6R, 7L, and 7R can’t be parallel. 6L and 7L would have magnetic bearing of 060 and 070 degrees. At first, I figured they fudged the numbers so that there would be no confusion. Then I went to Google maps and did some measuring, Lo and behold they aren’t parallel! Heading eastward they ‘toe in’ 10 degrees. A cute trick to get ‘parallel’ runways and keep the nomenclature correct without causing confusion.

Richard G.
Reply to  Richard Patton
January 14, 2019 1:38 pm

Technically even 6L, 6R can not be parallel because they are not actually line segments but rather arc segments on a sphere. So we deal with it in the real world. The nomenclature is to clarify possibly ambiguous communication errors. I don’t know how to compensate for dyslexic pilots.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Richard G.
January 14, 2019 2:04 pm

Technically even 6L, 6R can not be parallel because they are not actually line segments but rather arc segments on a sphere.
Picky, picky, picky. 😜

Fred Middleton
Reply to  commieBob
January 14, 2019 6:02 am

Interesting – ‘Airport runway numbers are not arbitrary, like street names.’ Edwards Air Force Base, California Mohave Desert dry lake. Has a very large Compass Rose in the edge of this dry lake. Length of time the Compass Rose has been in that place?? Would be interesting to know the various magnetic changes over a period of time. This Compass Rose is gradually fading away with time and no maintenance now.
I used Google Earth surfing WW2 Compass Rose places.

Reply to  commieBob
January 14, 2019 12:21 pm

+10, never knew that

January 13, 2019 6:50 pm

And one other item associated with the North Pole drift .. airport runway numbers! Runway 5 for instance represents a runway aligned with 50 degrees magnetic (actually 45 to 54 degrees). As the magnetic pole drifts, when you are lined up on the centerline your compass may point outside the range for that runway number so they periodically have to go back and renumber these runways.

We have had a couple of local airports having to change their numbers in the past few years.

Of course with GPS it is now possible to always know where true north is so moving to true north from magnetic north would solve this issue. But then again you would be mentally adding or subtracting in magnetic variation to your compass reading if your instruments failed.

January 13, 2019 6:51 pm

Are there any plans to adapt our language to the new pole positions? When the reversal occurs, do the poles remain in the same geographic area, just reversed, or could they move to entirely new locations? Will east and west have to swap places as well?

I could imagine east-west swapping with north-south depending upon the new polar locations. The equator, I imagine, will remain the equator, but it could run north-south instead of east-west. Young folks would have no problems adapting, but those who always traveled south for the winter would to remember to travel north, or east or west ans the case may be.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  MSO
January 13, 2019 7:22 pm

I always imagined living “Down-under”. Won’t even have to move. Cool.
Maybe I’ll start talking with Aussie accents too when pole reversal happens.
Chicks here in North America love guys with Aussie accents, …. Mel Gibson, Crocodile Dundee, Steve Irwin, etc.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 7:46 pm


Patrick MJD
Reply to  MarkW
January 13, 2019 8:15 pm

Just crikey will do!

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 8:22 pm

Could not resist…

Richard Patton
Reply to  MSO
January 13, 2019 9:58 pm

I remember from an article several years ago, I don’t remember if it was here or elsewhere, that the evidence is that during a reversal there will be more than one ‘north’ magnetic pole and more than one ‘south’ magnetic pole, sometimes with a ‘north’ and a ‘south’ in each hemisphere.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Richard Patton
January 13, 2019 11:40 pm

With geomagnetic Aurora seen in Tahiti at the equator.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 13, 2019 11:44 pm

More than likely. Aurora have been seen without polar reversal as far south as Singapore (that was before all the city lights eliminate even seeing stars)

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2019 9:29 am

I’m a bit sceptical of such claims.
Equatorial electro-jet might trigger a light display of ‘aurora’ kind.
“The equatorial electrojet (EEJ) is a narrow ribbon of current flowing eastward in the day time equatorial region of the Earth’s ionosphere. ”
( link )

Reply to  Richard Patton
January 14, 2019 4:46 am

yes I reckon Ive read similar
and while thigs are moving and realigning I would consider thats possible
dunno how bees will cope theyre very reliant on magnetics not just for flying to spots but also for flying and landing they use static charge n discharge
when left right updown are backwards it might be somewhat puzzling?

funny how ALLt he media waffled on about you up NTH and stuff all that the sth pole magnetic is also wandered a fair whack towards tassie

Reply to  Richard Patton
January 14, 2019 9:38 am

Current distribution of global geomagnetic field has ‘two’ north poles, one south pole and one major magnetic ‘depression’ link

Reply to  MSO
January 14, 2019 1:49 am

Some bar magnets are labeled ‘N’ on one end and ‘S’ on the other. If you hang such magnets so they are free to turn, then the ‘N’ end will point north and the ‘S’ end will point south. The poles of a bar magnet are labeled North-Seeking-Pole or North-Pole or just ‘N’ and South-Seeking-Pole or South-Pole or just ‘S’ for that reason. The Earth’s North magnetic pole is really a South-Seeking-Pole and vice-versa for the South magnetic pole. It’s easy to get confused.


Reply to  MSO
January 14, 2019 6:39 am

Funny thing about being in Australia, I’m a pretty good land navigator, Down There I couldn’t find my way around the block. I’m wired for the sun to be in the South, not the North……

Richard Patton
Reply to  Yooper
January 14, 2019 8:26 am

The reason that I got lost in Perth Australia when looking for an address is their address system is screwed up. for instance, Going north on Lawrence ave. you have 990 Lawrence, 13 Lawrence, 58 Lawrence, and 15 Lawrence. How the heck are you suppose to know where your address is? Admittedly that is a very short street and I know of one like that in the Portland Oregon area, but my biggest problem was that the numbers didn’t change in the 100’s place at every intersection. I was walking and walking and walking thinking my destination was just a block or so away. It was over a mile and a half!!!!!! LOL. BTW The Aussies were friendly. Nice country, nice people.

Richard G.
Reply to  MSO
January 14, 2019 2:04 pm

While every one has been distracted by the brazen plot of Russia to steal the north pole, Australia has been busy luring the south pole into abandoning the Antarctic continent and is *currently* on it’s way across the southern ocean, lured by the prospect of beer, barbies and birds in bikinis, no doubt.

Steve Z
Reply to  MSO
January 15, 2019 2:41 pm

Movements of the magnetic poles will not affect the axis of rotation of the earth, or the tilt of its axis of rotation with respect to the plane of the ecliptic, so that North America, Europe, and Asia will continue to have summer in June to September, and Australia will have summer in December to March, regardless of where the magnetic poles are located.

Figure 1 in Dr. Ball’s article suggests that the north magnetic pole is passing very close to the geographic north pole recently, so that compasses will point very close to true north in most places over the next few years.

If the north magnetic pole moves into Siberia over the next few decades, then compasses in Europe will point east of true north, and those in Alaska and on ships in the Pacific will point west of true north, which is the opposite of the declination observed during the 20th century.

The earth’s magnetic field tends to deflect ionized particles from the sun away from the earth at low latitudes (relative to the magnetic poles), but near the magnetic poles these particles follow the flux lines toward the magnetic pole. If the magnetic pole were to move into a relatively low latitude (relative to true north), the solar wind could increase dramatically into a populated area, possibly causing genetic mutations in people living near the magnetic pole.

January 13, 2019 6:54 pm

Gosh, you could make a real hookey stick (sic) out of the rate of movement. It must be caused by CO2 and all.

More seriously, Figure 1 seems to dip at the recent major sunspot minimums.

Patrick MJD
January 13, 2019 7:04 pm

This will surely annoy flat Earthers.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Patrick MJD
January 13, 2019 9:22 pm

Ha ha ha. Yea, would have to visit their boards and read about how they explain that one 🙂 I occasionally watch their YouTube documentaries for comedy relief. Funnier than television at least 🙂

Reply to  Patrick MJD
January 14, 2019 8:20 am

Not really. Their theory has the earth like a pancake, with the North Pole at the center. So the North Magnetic Pole wandering doesn’t bother them.

The South Magnetic Pole wandering may be problematic for them. I’d have to think about that one for a bit.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
January 14, 2019 7:14 pm

There isn’t a south pole on a flat Earth. And Antarctica is a wall that surrounds everything including the north pole.

They have some, shall I say politely, “interesting” theories about how this all works.

Bernie Roseke
January 13, 2019 7:05 pm

It’s funny that the green activists always focus on issues that are unverifiable by an average person. The Pacific garbage patch, magnetic North Pole. Global warming in general falls into that category as well.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Bernie Roseke
January 13, 2019 9:25 pm

As does the whales, polar bears, penguins, tropical forests, rising sea levels, peak oil, poison, insect population etc, and as you say, everything else.

January 13, 2019 8:01 pm

Much more important is the decline in magnetic field strength. Much higher Galactic Cosmic Rays entering the atmosphere. If Svensmark is correct, this will effect climate.


Reply to  Dennis Wingo
January 14, 2019 2:59 am

Screw the temp I want to know if I need to move underground to avoid the radiation. Like the extinction event that killed only land animals

Reply to  ironargonaut
January 14, 2019 7:47 am

“Like the extinction event that killed only land animals”

Which one would that be?

Reply to  Dennis Wingo
January 14, 2019 3:36 am

The global temperature anomaly is associated with the changes in the intensity of the Earth’s magnetic dipole
Eart’s dipole
and not with either of two individual poles.
a href=”http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/DNS.gif “> N&S poles
The North pole appears to be responsible for ~ 60 year quasi-periodic oscillation (North Atlantic Anomaly – AMO)
While the South pole might be responsible for the recent warming period.
Correlation is high, but no fully validated mechanism is obvious at the current stage of understanding.
Dipole’s data

Reply to  vukcevic
January 14, 2019 3:43 am
Reply to  vukcevic
January 14, 2019 9:34 am

(A) Geomagnetic dipole field strength relative to today (21). (B) Cosmic radiation based on the first principal component of several radionuclide records, 22-year averages, over the last 8,000 y. Time is given as year BP. The gray band represents the standard deviation of the individual radionuclide records without applying PCA (SI Appendix, Section S8). The black dashed line represents the average cosmic ray intensity for 1944–1988 AD. (C) Same as (B), but zoom-in of the past millennium. Capital letters mark grand solar minima: O: Oort, W: Wolf, S: Spörer, M: Maunder, D: Dalton, G: Gleissberg. (D) Same as (C), but zoom-in of the past 350 y. Time is given as year AD. Red circles and green curve are 22-year averages and yearly averages of cosmic ray intensity calculated with (3) using the solar modulation potential (38) obtained from neutron monitor and ionization chamber data (SI Appendix, Section S9). At the bottom the annual sunspot number is plotted (39).
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Reply to  vukcevic
January 14, 2019 10:11 am

This discovery is just one of the new findings presented at the week-long science meeting dedicated to the Swarm mission. Also presented this week and focusing on Birkeland currents, for example, Swarm was used to confirm that these currents are stronger in the northern hemisphere and vary with the season.

Reply to  ren
January 14, 2019 11:44 am

thanks Ren
interesting article “Birkeland currents carry up to 1 TW of electric power to the upper atmosphere”

January 13, 2019 8:02 pm


Left out the link to the NASA study on increased GCR’s..


Alastair Brickell
January 13, 2019 8:43 pm


Many thanks for an interesting post. I’ve had a look at your older 2014 post but am not quite sure where to find the evidence that:

“…changes in upper-level circulation, especially the subtropical easterlies and the mid-latitude westerlies are due to changes in pressure on the magnetic field and all underlying atmospheric layers by the solar wind.”

No doubt solar wind changes and earth’s magnetic field changes affect our magnetosphere but just how do these changes cause changes in pressure on the atmosphere and thus possibly the jet stream or whatever?

Would you have a link to any papers discussing this connection?

January 13, 2019 8:52 pm

Magnetic pole movememt in general is always ongoing due to earth’s core magnetic field changes. Atb~2,900 km down where mantle & core interface there are also patches of “reversed flux.”

These are anamolie in the north pole region where the magnetic field is orientated pointing in an upward direction. These patches are counter to the way earth’s northern hemisphere magnetic field points downward; hence are named “reversed flux patches”.

The migrating north pole is on (over if think of looking from the surface) a reversed flux patch. While the north pole is on this patch it moves relatively quickly under a strong positional reversed flux. Comversely the north pole will move slower when it is no longer crossing this reversed flux area.

Gary Miller
January 13, 2019 8:53 pm

And Seattle Tacoma has 16L, 16R and 16C as well as 34L, 34R and 34C!

John of Cloverdale, Western Australia
January 13, 2019 9:12 pm

“(Some joke here about fleeing increasingly socialist Canada for increasingly capitalist Siberia.)”
My first thoughts were, Putin is stealing the pole.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  John of Cloverdale, Western Australia
January 13, 2019 9:27 pm

You think he’s got a giant South Pole magnet drawing in the North pole, closer, closer, closer. Soon now, we will own the North Magnetic Pole! Mwaahahahaha.

Deloss McKnight
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
January 13, 2019 11:53 pm

Obviously the whole Trump-Russia collusion thing was a smokescreen to hide the real purpose of Putin stealing the Pole. We need to ship some MRI machines up to Canada to pull the Pole back and also strengthen it to fix the ozone hole while improving the Auroras to assist the indigenous people with their weather predictions. This shouldn’t cost more than $5 billion, so Trump should propose this to the Democrats as a trade for the wall. The Democrats should love such a deal because of the benefit to the most grave crisis facing peoplekind.

Chad Irby
January 13, 2019 9:26 pm

I’ve seen the same “magnetic north movement is speeding up” story a lot over the last day or so – but that first graphic seems to show it’s slowing down, not speeding up.

Did they draw the map wrong, or did they lie about the effects to help push the “government shutdown is hurting science” meme?”

Milton Suarez
January 13, 2019 9:46 pm

Muy interesante,es el que mas cerca esta de encontrar las respuestas.Felicitaciones Tim.

January 13, 2019 11:09 pm

1600 was also the same year that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for suggesting there might be life on other planets.

January 14, 2019 12:56 am

Bruno was burned at the stake for his theological errors (I’m not saying that was a good thing) not for his scientific beliefs. Even these days a Dominican denying the Trinity and the divinity of Christ would probably lose his job.

Reply to  Susan
January 14, 2019 2:51 am

But a Jesuit wouldn’t.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Susan
January 14, 2019 8:15 am

As would a board member of the American Athiest Society who said that he believes in God. We seem to think that we can claim membership in any organization even though we don’t ascribe to the beliefs/goals of that organization.

Reply to  Richard Patton
January 14, 2019 9:08 am

According to most colleges, it is an act of discrimination for a religious based group to require their leaders to actually believe in that religion.

Richard Patton
Reply to  MarkW
January 14, 2019 10:26 am

Unfortunately, you are right. They (the university) require that you adhere to their religion not yours.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Susan
January 14, 2019 8:59 am

Bruno was burned as a heretic for his “scientific” beliefs. The Catholic Church has taken a position that it was not so to keep from looking anti- science. But the most repeated charges against him were his belief in many worlds which he refused to recant.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
January 14, 2019 3:12 pm

And your source is?

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Susan
January 14, 2019 7:21 pm

I have read many counts of the history of this distant relative of mine. Most recently new research by Alberto A. Martínez, PhD, professor of history of science at the University of Texas at Austin.

January 14, 2019 2:13 am

An archaeological question – I saw somewhere a reference to a serious Pole weakening around 3000BCE, and cannot find it anywhere. Has anybody data for that epoch somewhere?

Reply to  bonbon
January 14, 2019 3:39 am

Found something :
Archaeointensity results spanning the past 6 kiloyears from eastern China and implications for extreme behaviors of the geomagnetic field
“…with an exceptionally low intensity around ∼2200 BCE (hitherto the lowest value observed for the Holocene) and a “spike” intensity value dated at ∼1300 ± 300 BCE …”

Is it possible open ocean navigation during that dip went awry – people got simply lost? Another mislaid paper hinted at a language splitting occuring around that time, in other words a major civilization impact.

Reply to  bonbon
January 14, 2019 8:17 am

2200 BCE, that would be just about the same time as the 4.2 KA event. I wonder….

For those not familiar with the 4.2 KA event, it was an abrupt cooling and drying that disrupted or wiped out civilizations from Egypt to China.

Reply to  bonbon
January 14, 2019 1:19 pm

I have been watching a ton of ancient civilization videos of late, many of those with ties to the “ancient alien” line of thought. Ignoring the “ancient alien” part, there is plenty of physical evidence for global interaction in trade and science going way back in time. The main evidence for this is seen in the superior megalithic walls which were built on every continent where mankind is present. They all show the same degree of expertise with the ability to fashion polygonal stone blocks of varying shapes and sizes which fit together without mortar to create an earthquake proof wall. Then there is other physical evidence such as a very large stone bowl which was found in Tiwanaku that has Sumerian writing on it.

The time period which you point to is well after the time when different groups of people lost the ability to communicate with one another. That period is attributed to the Great Flood/Younger Dryas, and is depicted in the many YouTube videos as occurring around 13,000 years ago. The thought is that a comet/asteroid struck the remaining continental ice sheets in North America and Greenland. That would have caused an immediate flooding of the planet, and then the start of a massive rain event which would have indeed flooded everyone on the planet as the relentless rain would have flooded all habitable lands at all altitudes. The main way for people to survive would have been to go into caves and underground, and guess what can be found all around the globe? Evidence of large groups of people living in caves/underground systems for an extensive period of time. Gobekli Tepe is the most well known example of an underground system with an estimated capacity of 20,000 residents at multiple sites in that area.

The other main thought is that prior to the flood there was advanced civilization around the globe, and that after the flood the remnants of mankind took several thousands of years to regroup. That is when mankind lost the ability to communicate with different people. Obviously, the ability to build those beautiful massive stone structures was lost as there are no examples afterwards.

Krishna Gans
Reply to  bonbon
January 14, 2019 3:40 am

‘Do you mean the Mono Lake Excursion ?
It was about 34000 before today.

January 14, 2019 3:45 am

As for birds migrating the wrong way because of a field reversal there is evidence that the birds learns to associate the magnetic field with direction by watching the sky as nestlings. So unless the shift is fast enough to be significant over the (short) lifespan of a bird they will not be much affected.

Birds that fly in the wrong direction when migrating (which does happen) may simply have been unlucky enough to be hatched near a magnetite body.

Reply to  tty
January 14, 2019 7:07 am

It’s going to be confusing though

The north pole will be at the south pole …perhaps the hemispheres will have to be renamed and northern hemisphereans will have to get used to standing on their heads

Aurora negra
January 14, 2019 3:52 am

As a student in the early 70’s I was part of a team that painted the magnetic field from pole to pole. The experiment was called OOSIK! Somebody had a sense of humor.

January 14, 2019 5:42 am

Clearly a magnetic flip would be caused by increased CO2 at which point we reach a tipping point and zombies come out to inhabit the earth and right handed sharks the oceans.

January 14, 2019 6:48 am

Something I didn’t see mentioned. That point which is the “center” of Earth’s magnetic field is really an average probability. If you average the probabilities of where the point is, it will appear “there.” The magnetic north actually wanders up to a couple hundred miles from that point at any given moment. This is another reason why going too far north and your compass will not be accurate, not just because the magnetic lines change their direction from horizontal to down, but because the compass is will change direction as the magnetic north point moves.

I don’t know if they have them any more, but there used to be tours for people to go to north Canada and try to hit the magnetic north pole. When it hit a group, there would be celebrating, because not every group was able to encounter true magnetic north, since it moves in random directions.

January 14, 2019 7:46 am

“The problem with that is a reversal would require the rotation stop and start up in the opposite direction. There is no evidence for that proposition. The more likely explanation is that each of the Earths inner shells, from the Solid Inner Core to the Liquid Outer Core, through the Mantle, rotate at different speeds and each induces a magnetic field (Figure 4).”

In the last 200 million years the Earth’s magnetic poles have actually reversed hundreds of times, with the most recent reversal taking place about 790,000 years ago. Earth’s magnetic field results from movements of molten iron and nickel within its liquid outer core. These flows, which are caused by interactions between Earth’s core and its mantle, are neither even, nor evenly distributed. There are number of vortices within outer liquid core. Currant model assumes they are cylindrical link . Models for prediction for the field changes have large uncertainty, IMHO due to unrealistic starting point.
A conical vortices system link has been proposed but not accepted, but does help explain number of ambiguities.
Earth’s solid inner core is asymmetrical and rotates at different rate to the rest of the planet. As it rotates its bump interferes with the velocity of circulation in three vortices (see the last link), slowing down one in the N. Canada and allowing somewhat stronger circulation in the Siberian vortex, the result it is observed as the ‘North’ magnetic pole drifts in direction of Russia.
Differential rotation is time variable with angular difference currently is in order of about 20 radial degrees/century (tectonic measurements show inner-core differential rotation rate of 0.15° per year link .
“The solid iron-nickel alloy that is about the size of the moon — rotates in an easterly direction, at a greater speed than the rotation of the Earth itself.” Making the inner core diff-rotation positive.
It could be postulated that at some time in the distant future when diff-rotation velocity approaches zero a magnetic flip may occur, but only if the diff-rotation velocity then changes sign, i.e. if the Earth itself rotates with speed greater than the rotation of the inner core.

Reply to  vukcevic
January 14, 2019 8:26 am

On the other hand there has also been very long intervals without any “flips”like the Cretaceous normal epoch 83-120 MA BP and the Kiaman reversed epoch 262-312 MA BP.

Reply to  tty
January 14, 2019 10:01 am

Would a brief “flipped” polarity – of just a few thousand, even a few hundred, years, say – show up in that length of record?
Especially as the two examples are many tens of millions of years ago.


Richard Patton
Reply to  auto
January 14, 2019 10:33 am

It may occur much faster than we think. Recent investigations of lava flows of Steens Mountain Oregon reveal several reversals in the same flow, estimated to have occurred over a period of weeks. It is a good thing that we have GPS satellites and gyrocompasses. Can you imagine what havoc that would cause if we were still relying only on magnetic compasses for navigation?

Reply to  Richard Patton
January 15, 2019 6:59 am

The problem with a quick reversal is radiation damage to satellites or so that’s the hypothesis.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Jenn
January 15, 2019 7:15 am

The ‘interesting’ thing about our modern technology which has brought 80%+ of the world out of abject poverty is that events which would have been easily survivable in simpler times, such as a magnetic polar reversal, or the Carrington event, would cause millions to die because our technology isn’t designed with such events in mind.

January 14, 2019 8:45 am

With True Dough in charge and a federal election coming up, I can’t blame it for high tailing it out of Canada.

Steve O
January 14, 2019 9:00 am

“… it is time to take a large portion of the money the Democrats will direct to ‘proving’ IPCC claims, and identify other major mechanisms that far exceed any possible influence of human CO2 on climate change.”

And this answers the question of “Well, just what’s wrong with spending all this money even if CO2 turns out to be not a big deal? It’s because you can only expend resources once. Resources expended to build a windmill can’t also be spent to provide potable water to those without, or on health programs in Africa, or killer asteroids, or curing afflictions.

January 14, 2019 9:20 am

“… the Earth is slowing down in its speed of rotation …”

Because, windmills

Steve O 2
January 14, 2019 12:08 pm

From the base article

Say Canada is essentially losing a magnetic tug-of-war with Siberia


John Pickens
January 14, 2019 8:14 pm

I cannot wait to visit penguins off the coast of Alaska!

Dr. Strangelove
January 15, 2019 4:12 am

“Before the discovery of reversals, people thought the Earth was a giant rotating dynamo. The problem with that is a reversal would require the rotation stop and start up in the opposite direction.”

Dr. Ball,
A turbulent dynamo field can produce magnetic field reversals. This has been demonstrated in laboratory experiments.

“The more likely explanation is that each of the Earths inner shells, from the Solid Inner Core to the Liquid Outer Core, through the Mantle, rotate at different speeds and each induces a magnetic field”

Merely rotating at different speeds will not induce a magnetic field. The convective flow must generate current loops in accordance with Ampere’s law. Fluid viscosity resists rotation at different speeds. It is possible if torque is applied:
M = I dw/dt
where: M is torque, I is moment of inertia, dw/dt is angular acceleration

But this is not how Earth rotates. It rotates by conservation of angular momentum:
L = I w
where: L is angular momentum, I is moment of inertia, w is angular velocity

Rhys Jaggar
January 15, 2019 5:39 am

The hypothesis of mass extinctions during reversal events begs the question of where to observe the next reversal from, so that survivors could indeed document that extinctions had taken place. The moon? Mars? An extraterrestrial spaceship?

Of course, one might also ask whether the new robots based on silicon not carbon would be affected by magnetic reversals or whether they could observe events on earth if designed suitably (or reversal-suited robots shipped in from a factory in space once the reversal was underway).

This all asumes that humans will still exist come the next reversal. Major changes in US military policy may be necessary to stop the Dogs of War triggering catastrophe…..you know, respecting the fact that 95% of humans are not subservient inferior beings….

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