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Pilots, boaters adjust to shift in magnetic north

February 22, 2011 Comments off

Magnetic north, the point at the top of the Earth that determines compass headings, is shifting its position at a rate of about 40 miles per year. In geologic terms, it’s racing from the Arctic Ocean near Canada toward Russia.

As a result, everyone who uses a compass, even as a backup to modern GPS navigation systems, needs to be aware of the shift, make adjustments or obtain updated charts to ensure they get where they intend to go, authorities say. That includes pilots, boaters and even hikers.

“You could end up a few miles off or a couple hundred miles off, depending how far you’re going,” said Matthew Brock, a technician with Lauderdale Speedometer and Compass, a Fort Lauderdale company that repairs compasses.

Although the magnetic shift has little impact on the average person and presents no danger to the Earth overall, it is costing the Read more…

North pole shift could cause airport trouble

January 31, 2011 1 comment

Airports like Tampa and West Palm Beach have recently closed runways because of the shift that is taking place, and it is not the runway that is moving.

Peter Burns, Ph.d., a professor at Notre Dame, says, “The issue of course is the magnetic field does not align with the rotational poles of the earth, and depending on where you sit on the earth, the wandering of the magnetic poles is more or less significant.”

Burns also says that magnetic north is currently located in northern Canada, and it is wandering towards Russia.

This could cause some problems for pilots, as compass readings will also “wander”.

Dee Davis of the Mishawaka Pilots Club, says, “More and more navigation is GPS-based and that is a wonderful thing. But the magnetic north compass still works very well, it is inexpensive, and doesn’t require batteries.”

Compasses aid in navigation and they play an important role in runway numbering.

The main runway at South Bend Regional Airport is labeled 27, a look at the charts shows that the runway’s full heading is at 273 degrees.

If magnetic north continues to wander, some runway numbers will no longer match up with their true heading, a problem that could be very dangerous for pilots taking off.

“One of the most important things that a pilot does before take off, is he will Read more…