I know that the magnetic north is not exactly at the polar north, so when hiking very close to the Northern Pole, you have to take the difference into account.

This got me thinking: Is this also a problem on the Southern Pole?

I would say "yes," but then I read this question about world wide navigation, and from one of the responses it seems like there are other problems when closer to the Southern Pole.

  • 1
    The accuracy of specific compass might vary depending on where you are because of the balance of the needle. – Henrik Hansen Jun 7 '12 at 16:18
  • It's probably harder to get as close to the South Pole without being near some sort of serious expedition members who have already figured this out, but the deviation is similar (theoretically the same, practically probably not so much). – Monster Dec 5 at 21:11
up vote 11 down vote accepted

The magnetic declination at the south pole works the same way to that at the north, and for exactly the same reason. The magnetic field, while generated by the spin of the Earth's core is not tied to the physical spin axis for the earth so the exact magnetic north and south move.

Before you travel near the poles (you don't even need to be that near for declination to be significant) you should look at a declination map, or the online NOAA page for declination. At really high latitudes (either north or south) it is essential to have an accurate declination map with you or you could get very lost.

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