More DW Blogs DW.COM


Thinking for a cooler world

Search Results for Tag: satellite measurements

Gianna Gruen | Ideas

North pole changes places

Visualization of the earth’s magnetic field, connecting the North pole (orange lines) with South pole (blue lines) (Photo credit: NASA)

Climate change has many impacts on the planet, and researchers recently discovered another striking one: North Pole is moving. It’s not the ice masses in the Arctic, but acually the Northern pole of the earth’s magnetic field.

With help of satellite measurements, scientists figured out that the pole is shifting about 20 centimeters per year towards Greenland. Position of the magnetic field’s poles is determined by mass distribution around the planet. This mass distribution changes due to climate change: Accelerated melting of the poles account for 90 per cent of the movement, the study concludes.

The magnetic field protects the planet from solar winds – resulting in such nice polar lights. (Photo credit: CC BY 2.0: Nasa)

You wonder about the remaining 10 per cent? Well, you might not have known yet (so did we) that the pole is constantly moving as earth’s mass distribution changes anyway seasonally/continuously by snow- or rainfall or continental drift. The movement due to melting ice sheets adds up on this trend. For scientists, this is more than just a “nice-to-know”-fact: the satellite measurements can help climate researchers to tell, where ice is lost and in consequence provide more detail to predict climate change impacts.


May 20, 2013



Comments deactivated