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Shifting North Pole Forces Tampa Airport to Remodel Runways


"The magnetic pole actually moves around several hundred miles."

The North Pole is shifting. More specifically, the earth's magnetic field is ever changing, just slightly. It's that shifting that has forced Tampa International Airport to repaint all its runways so that the numbers on them accurately reflect the compass headings they're supposed to represent.

Fox 13 in Tampa reports:

According to National Geographic.com , the magnetic north pole is moving toward Russia at about 25 miles per year. Researchers say it is likely a "normal oscillation" of the Earth's magnetic field, rather than the beginning of reversal of the fields.

Airport runways are numbered to correspond with the magnetic heading they face.  For example, a south-pointing runway would be numbered 18, for 180 degrees.  An east-facing runway is numbered 09, for 90 degrees.

So now, there won't be planes landing on TIA's  main runway for another week. All the markings painted for pilots on the runway and taxiways must be changed, because they're all about ten degrees off.

"It's very important. The pilots identify what runway they're on by looking at their compass. So the runway has to align numberwise with the compass heading to make it safe and consistent," TIA Director of Operations Robert Burr told Fox 13.

And just in case you started to worry that the earth itself is shifting, don't. According to Burr, it's only the earth's magnetic field that's moving.

"The world's in the same place; it's the magnetic field of the earth actually shifts. The magnetic pole actually moves around several hundred miles," Burr explained.

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