Airport Runways Shift With The Magnetic North Pole : Blog Of The Nation The magnetic north pole shifts toward Russia at a rate of about 40 miles a year. The Tampa Tribune reports that the Tampa International airport had to rename its runways to match the new readings on cockpit compasses.
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Airport Runways Shift With The Magnetic North Pole

The Tampa airport was forced to rename its runways after the magnetic north pole shifted. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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The Tampa airport was forced to rename its runways after the magnetic north pole shifted.

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Many of us learn in science class that our compass points to the magnetic north pole rather than "true north." That's a fairly simple concept on paper, but it has very practical implications in the real world. The Tampa International Airport recently shut down its primary runway to rename it -- because its designation on a plane's compass has shifted. The Tampa Tribune reports:

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.
Later this month, the airport's east parallel runway and the seldom used east-west runway will be closed to change signage to their new designations.

The paper explains that the Earth's magnetic north pole is gradually shifting about 40 miles a year. There's a video explainer and a history of the locations of the pole going back to 1831 at their website.

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