Native Village
Youth and Education news
 Volume 3  February 2011

Magnetic North Pole Shift Affects Tampa Airport
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Florida: Scientists say the earth's magnetic north pole is slowly moving towards Russia.  One place recently affected by the shift is Tampa International Airport.

In January, several Tampa Airport runways were closed to adjust taxiway signs. Normally, magnetic fields don't require airports to make adjustments, said FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto.

"You want to be absolutely precise in your compass heading," Takemoto said. "To make sure the precision is there that we need, you have to make these changes."

Kathleen Bergen said that airport runway charting relies on accurate geomagnetic information.

"Aviation is charted using latitude and longitude and the magnetic poles," she said. "The Earth's poles are changing constantly, and when they change more than three degrees, that can affect runway numbering."

It's not known yet if similar changes will be needed at other U.S. airports. It is estimated that the pole is shifting at about 40 miles per year.

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