[CQ-Contest] Russian Beats Out Canada for Magnetic North ... For Now

donovanf at starpower.net donovanf at starpower.net
Thu May 7 18:54:06 EDT 2020

Hi Ken, 

BBC's article this week " Scientists explain magnetic pole's wanderings" 
has attracted the interest of many radio amateurs interested in ionospheric 


Unless you've studied geomagnetic physics you probably never learned 
-- or even heard -- that the Earth has three north poles. The BBC 
article describes the poles very well, but does not address the 
relationship between the poles and ionospheric propagation. 

The geographic north pole is where the Earth's rotation axis intersects 
the Earth's surface in the northern hemisphere. It affects ionospheric 
propagation because the orientation of Earth's tilted axis to the Sun varies 
with the seasons and determines our daylight/darkness cycles throughout 
the year. 

While the magnetic north pole -- the focus of the BBC article -- is important 
to navigation systems, it has no significance to ionospheric propagation. 
Most of us learned about the magnetic north pole when we learned how 
to use a compass, it is located in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's 
magnetic field lines are measured to be exactly perpendicular to the Earth's 
surface. I ts position has been drifting about 50-60 km per year for about the 
last forty years. 

The geomagnetic north pole -- only briefly described in the BBC article -- 
is very important to ionospheric propagation and many other aspects of 
the Earth's space environment. It is the intersection of the Earth's surface 
in the northern hemisphere and the axis of a bar magnet hypothetically 
placed at the center the Earth. It is very significant for ionospheric 
propagation because it determines the position of the geomagnetic field 
in the Earth's space environment including -- very importantly -- 
its ionosphere. The geomagnetic field very profoundly affects ionospheric 
propagation. The geomagnetic north pole drifts only about one km. per year, 
a tiny fraction of the movement of the magnetic north pole described in the 
BBC article. 


As an aside, while the magnetic north pole is drifting fairly rapidly, 
the magnetic south pole is drifting very little at all. 

----- Original Message -----

From: "ktfrog007--- via CQ-Contest" <cq-contest at contesting.com> 
To: kq2m at kq2m.com, cq-contest at contesting.com, hhamwv at gmail.com 
Sent: Thursday, May 7, 2020 12:07:35 PM 
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Russian Beats Out Canada for Magnetic North ... For Now 

Another question: Has the magnetic polar drift affected propagation over the decades? 
I don't have any data except my own unreliable memory and old logs, but my feeling is that back in the 1960-1990 time frame long haul DX propagation was better than now, at least for my operations from Indiana, Colorado and Massachusetts. 

It's interesting that the magnetic pole moved less in that time frame and then rapidly accelerated up to the present. 

It seems to me that DXing was better back then, but it's difficult to separate that from the declining sunspot cycles and the changes in ham demographics. 

Ken, AB1J 

-----Original Message----- 
From: Bob Shohet, KQ2M <kq2m at kq2m.com> 
To: cq-contest <cq-contest at contesting.com>; hhamwv at gmail.com 
Sent: Wed, May 6, 2020 5:10 pm 
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Russian Beats Out Canada for Magnetic North ... For Now 

Hi Dave, 

Thanks for posting that interesting article. 

What effect, if any, does this have on beam headings through the Northern regions – like UA0, UA3, JA? 
Does it change them at all? If so, how and by what amount? 

Tnx & 73 

Bob, KQ2M 

From: David Siddall 
Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2020 11:22 AM 
To: cq-contest 
Subject: [CQ-Contest] Russian Beats Out Canada for Magnetic North ... For Now 

Good thing HF antennas generally have relatively wide beam width if you use 
a compass to orient without correcting for deviation. 

This also has a subtle effect on propagation paths through the polar areas, 
depending upon your location. 


73, Dave K3ZJ 
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