Magnetic South Pole target of expedition

Dec. 28, 2011 at 5:42 PM
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AVALON, New Zealand, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Two scientists from New Zealand say they will travel to the Antarctic to continue a 100-year-long record of Earth's magnetic field.

That record of measurements was begun by British explorer Robert Scott at the start of his ill-fated expedition to the geographic South Pole.

Record-keeping and precise measurement is necessary because the magnetic poles don't stay put, moving with the complex circulation of Earth's fluid outer core.

In the last 100 years both magnetic poles have been moving northwest.

The magnetic north pole is moving from Canada towards Siberia at a rate of about 30 miles a year, and the south magnetic pole is heading towards Australia at 6 to 9 miles per year.

"It's quite an astonishing rate," Stewart Bennie of GNS Science in Avalon, New Zealand, told the journal Nature.

Bennie is one of the two scientists due to head to the Antarctic to make the latest measurements.

The movement of the poles is considered to be a normal result of the planet's magnetic wobble and can change direction at any time, scientists said.

New Zealand has taken its measurements at Scott's hut once every 5 years or so since 1957.

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