The planet’s northern magnetic pole is drifting slowly but steadily towards Russia — and it’s throwing off planes in Florida.
Tampa International Airport was forced to readjust its runways Thursday to account for the movement of the Earth’s magnetic fields, information that pilots rely upon to navigate planes. Thanks to the fluctuations in the force, the airport has closed its primary runway until Jan. 13 to change taxiway signs to account for the shift, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The busiest runway will be re-designated 19R/1L on aviation charts. It’s been 18R/36L, indicating its alignment along the 180-degree approach from the north and the 360-degree approach from the south.
The offset between the magnetic and true north varies with the particular location on the earth and is referred to as the magnetic declination.
When you take into consideration that the magnetic pole is moving toward Russia at a rate of 40 miles per year, changes have to be made.
A magnetic shift of three degrees or more at an airport require changes to be made on the runway markings and on aviation maps.
Most maps used for navigation have the magnetic declination indicated on them.
There are also world country and world maps that show the magnetic declination lines.
Read More on Pole shifting from http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/29dec_magneticfield.html
Read more about the phenomenon from http://www.halexandria.org/dward761.htm