Magnetic field variation is normal, if not easily predicted, but changes typically don't throw off navigation systems enough to warrant more frequent updates to the model.
"With the last release in 2015, the next version is scheduled for release at the end of 2019". At the end of 2017, it crossed the worldwide date line. He and his USA counterparts worked on a new model, which was almost ready to be released when much of the US federal government ran out of funding.
For decades, magnetic north was steadily inching away from the geographic North Pole, but for the last few years the north magnetic pole has been moving closer to the North Pole.
If the poles flip, compasses will point south - and it could have significant effects on Earth's power grid (although it's not likely to happen immediately, despite doomsday-mongers' obsession with the idea).
Magnetic North is on the move, and it has implications for everything from navigation to consumer products. The update doesn't have much outcome for civilian users of magnetic navigation but is critical to military users. "These currents tug on the magnetic field, sending magnetic north hopping across the globe".
The magnetic north pole, or south pole, does not coincide with the geographical north or south pole.
In general Earth's magnetic field is getting weaker, leading scientists to say it will eventually flip, where the North and South poles change polarity, like a bar magnet flipping over. For example, the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska, renamed a runway 1L-19R to 2L-20R in 2009.
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The reason which scientists trace back to this shift is the turbulence in Earth's outer core.
Federal organizations like NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration use something called the World Magnetic Model for navigational purposes as well as surveying and mapping, satellite tracking, and air traffic management.
"The declination has changed just over 2.5 degrees over the past 22 years since Denver opened", Heath Montgomery, former Denver International Airport spokesperson, said in a statement after the last update.
"The magnetic field (changes) continuously, but it is partly because of its natural behaviour", he added.
The update will help navigation services that rely on the World Magnetic Model to calibrate users' geolocation data, the NOAA said.
That could bother some birds that use magnetic fields to navigate, and an overall weakening of the magnetic field is not good for people and especially satellites and astronauts.