What is the Magnetic North Pole?

The Earth is one big magnet.

The Magnetic North Pole (also known as the North Dip Pole) is a point on Ellesmere Island in Northern Canada where the northern lines of attraction enter the Earth.

A compass needle rests freely in its casing so it can maneuver itself. When you pull out a compass, it aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field. The small magnetic pin is how a compass responds to Earth’s magnetism.

This means that a compass needle will point to the Magnetic North Pole – which is different from the geographic north.

But how much of a difference is the magnetic north vs geographic north?

Magnetic North Pole

Magnetic North Pole

Where are the Magnetic North Pole and Geographic North Pole?

Magnetic North Pole

The question is:

Where would a compass needle point if you were standing on the true North Pole?

If you were standing on the geographic north pole holding your compass, it would point towards northern Canada at Ellesmere Island. This is a difference of about 500 kilometers between the Geographic North and Magnetic North poles!

This difference is called the magnetic inclination. Magnetic deviation is the error of a compass needle including nearby metallic objects.

Magnetic inclination varies according to where you are located on the globe. In order to point you in the right directions, users can compensate for magnetic inclination by using charts of declination or local calibration.

The difference today is about 500 kilometers. But the Magnetic North Pole is actually moving kilometers every year. This phenomenon is known as the Polar Shift Theory.