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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 10:25 EDT

Magnetic Pole Shift Forces Runway Closure At Florida Airport

January 7, 2011

The shifting of the planet’s northern magnetic pole forced Tampa International Airport to readjust their runways on Thursday, according to a report by Jeremy A. Kaplan of Foxnews.com.

Kaplan reports that the shifting of the Earth’s magnetic fields, spurred by the drifting of the north pole towards Russia, has prompted officials at the Florida airport to shut down their primary runway until January 13. The temporary closure will give them time to change their taxiway signs to account for the magnetic changes, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials told Fox News.

“The poles are generated by movements within the Earth’s inner and outer cores, though the exact process isn’t exactly understood. They’re also constantly in flux, moving a few degrees every year, but the changes are almost never of such a magnitude that runways require adjusting,” Kaplan reported, citing FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto as a source.

The runway’s listing on aviation charts will be changed from 18R/36L (representing 180-degree approach from the north and the 360-degree approach from the south) to 19R/1L, according to various media sources.

When Kaplan asked Takemoto how often these kinds of adjustments were needed at airports, the FAA spokesman told him, “It happens so infrequently that they wouldn’t venture a guess”¦ In fact, you’re the first journalist to ever ask me about it.” He was also quick to point out that passenger safety will not be an issue, but that the changes were needed “to make sure the precision is there that we need.”

According to a Wednesday article in the Tampa Tribune, late this month, the airport’s east parallel runway and a seldom used east-west runway will also be closed so that officials can change signage to reflect their new designations as well.

“The Federal Aviation Administration required the runway designation change to account for what a National Geographic News report described as a gradual shift of the Earth’s magnetic pole at nearly 40 miles a year toward Russia because of magnetic changes in the core of the planet,” the Florida newspaper’s website also said.

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