Magnetic North Relocation and Future Maritime Navigation


Published Feb 23, 2019 7:05 PM by Harry Valentine

Recent scientific reports have advised about magnetic north drifting toward Siberia, and steps are being undertaken to assist international transportation in regard to directional accuracy. The combination of relocation of magnetic north, carbon induced global warming and a possible cyclical reduction in solar energy output has numerous implications that can affect future shipping and even future trade.


Scientific studies undertaken into the earth’s history have revealed several extraordinary occurrences of long ago. During an earlier time of perhaps 10,000-years ago, much of the Sahara Desert and areas of Northern Canada may have been sub-tropical rain forests while the Arctic may have been free from ice cover. The earth’s geological record suggests that the Arctic may have undergone a series of ice-free periods occurring at 10,000-years intervals. One possible explanation could involve solar cycles of alternating hotter and cooler periods while another possible explanation involves a possible tilt of the earth’s rotational axis.

The earth’s core is believed to be composed of molten iron with the intensity of the earth’s gravity causing chemical fusion of some chemical elements that occur deep below ground and could affect the location of magnetic north. Solid iron occurs as deposits embedded in the earth’s crust with potential for magnetism and a shift in magnetic north to cause a shift in the tilt of the earth’s crust relative to a straight line between the earth and the sun. Viewed from another perspective, the earth’s crust could tilt relative to its geographic rotational axis.

Mega Gyroscope

Someone holding a lightweight, large diameter bicycle wheel by its axle and causing the wheel to rotate will feel the gyroscopic force caused by wheel rotation at the axle. A sphere of equivalent diameter and equivalent weight (mass) as the wheel in a narrow band at maximum radius from the rotational axis will also exhibit the gyroscopic effect after rotation is induced. The earth’s crust is the equivalent of a mega-size hollow sphere, except that it spins and slips on a molten inner core. Relocation of magnetic north could generate enough physical force to cause earth’s crust slippage.

As magnetic north gravitates toward Siberia, the geographic rotational axis and relocated magnetic north would appear to seek to re-align with each other. The mathematical equation of rotation induced gyroscopic force involves mass, rotational speed and the square of the effective radius of the mass from rotational axis. Depending on the speed at which magnetic north relocates, the dynamic forces seeking to re-align magnetic north with rotational axis would induce such extreme physical stresses in the earth’s crust as to increase the potential for frequency of earthquakes and volcanic activity, with further potential for tidal waves and tsunamis. 

Earth’s Crust Re-alignment

If the angle of the geographic rotational axis remains constant in relation to a straight line between earth and sun, Australia would move further north relative to an earth –sun straight line while Canada would move further south. Both Australia and Canada would experience changes in climate and in weather patterns, with potential for longer and warmer summers. 

Russia moving further north in relation to an earth –sun straight line would result in longer and colder winters for Siberia and northern Russia, with a reduction in future agricultural output, with much of Europe also experience colder future winters.

The combination of warmer temperatures caused by increased atmospheric carbon and a re-aligned earth’s crust relative to an earth – sun straight line would result in some extraordinary changes in future weather patterns. 

A third factor involves solar cycles and the projection that the sun is near the end of a cycle of higher energy output and would likely be entering a cycle of lower energy output. A computer program would be required to explore the combined effects of carbon induced global warming with earth’s crust re-alignment involving both constant and reduce solar thermal output. 

Future Arctic Navigation

Canada moving further south relative to an earth – sun straight line would increases the likelihood of a warmer northern climate, given constant solar thermal output and an absence of global warming. While the combination of a re-aligned earth’s crust and carbon global warming could open Canada’s Northwest Passage for seasonal trans-Arctic deep-draft ship navigation, a cyclical reduction in solar thermal output would likely reduce the duration of such a navigation season. A computer simulation would likely be required to assess future climatic and weather changes in the Canadian Arctic, including the impact on future navigation.

Presently during the northern summer, the comparatively shallow Russian side of the Arctic is open to seasonal navigation between Bering Strait and Norwegian Sea. Magnetic North moving toward Siberia and future re-alignment between it and the earth’s geographic rotational axis along with future cyclical reduction in solar thermal output has the potential of producing colder Northern Russian winters and restrict future trans-Arctic navigation, leaving future development in wing-in-ground effect technology as a possible future trans-Arctic transportation option. 


A trio of events that include relocation of magnetic north, global warming and a cyclical reduction in solar thermal energy will affect northern navigation. The events will affect the future of Russian trans-Arctic maritime navigation, and they have the potential to open Canadian trans-Arctic navigation.

Some 10,000-years ago, the Canadian Arctic was free of ice and may have been caused by a re-alignment between the earth’s crust and its geographic rotational axis, caused a relocation of magnetic north.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.