North Ain’t Where You Thought It Was

In case you haven’t noticed already, your magnetic compass is now pretty much worthless, you may as well toss it in the trash. There goes all that Boy Scout orienteering training.

Magnetic north shifting its position

Magnetic north, the point at the top of the Earth that determines compass headings, is shifting its position about 64 kilometres a year. In geologic terms, it’s racing from the Arctic Ocean near Canada towards Russia.

As a result, everyone who uses a compass, even as a back-up 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 effect on the average person and presents no danger to the Earth overall, it is costing the aviation and marine industries millions of dollars to upgrade navigational systems and charts.

See also:
Ordinary Compasses Thrown Off by Changes in Earth’s Magnetic Field
Natural change in earth’s magnetic field causes issues for some pilots
Randy Mann: Magnetic pole angles toward Russia
Pilots, boaters adjust to shift in magnetic north position
Magnetic north drift affects airports
Map: Shift in magnetic north
Headed north? It might not be where you think it is
Which Way Is Magnetic North?
Natural change in earth’s magnetic field causes issues for some pilots
Magnetic North Is on the Move. Time to Panic?

Of course, now we have GPS to do our navigating for us. But what happens when the batteries go dead or, in a worst case scenario, GPS is no longer available because the satellites have been destroyed or there’s been an EMP attack? There’s no reliable backup anymore, now that magnetic compasses are pretty much useless.

/how many people nowadays are trained in celestial navigation or sextant use?

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