Land Navigation

Magnetic Declination (Update Feb 2019)


The World Magnetic Model (WMM) has been updated this month to reflect the new location of magnetic north.  This change will affect your magnetic declination that will in turn affect how you navigate in a wilderness area. Scientists from around the world state that over the past decade the Magnetic North has been moving at a greater distance than in the previous years.  The movement of magnetic north prior to this dramatic change would average 5 to 7 miles yearly.  Over the past decade the movement has been increased to 34 – 36 miles a year.   The current location of magnetic north in in the Canadian Arctic.  Its current movement is heading toward Siberia.

Magnetic North was located in 1831, by James Ross Clark, a British Royal Navy explorer.  Since then we have been able to determine its movement.  But with the recent increase in its change the NOAA has put out an update to help those individuals who rely on the location of magnetic north for navigation.  This update is usually put out every 5 years with the last update done in 2014. Magnetic north is constantly moving due to the composition of the earth, the earths rotation, and its churring molten inner core.

As a wilderness backpacker I use my compass and a topographical map for land navigation.  I use these tools in unison with a hand held GPS unit I bring with me on all of my wilderness expeditions.   The new changes in the magnetic north will affect how you navigate in the wilderness, (See my article on magnetic declination). This article will help you convert your map to compass reading or compass to map reading using magnetic declination.

The new World Magnetic Model released this month, (Feb 2019), will allow not only wilderness backpackers to navigate through remote and rugged wilderness areas, but it will also allow many other professions, (Forestry service, , NASA, Aviation related professions, etc.), to accurately navigate.

This article is written to inform you on the new WMM and to provide you with a website where you can input your location to get your magnetic declination.  That calculator is on the NOAA website,