The Earth’s Magnetic Field

The Earth behaves as though it has a magnet within it, due to the circulating currents inside its core. The Earth also produces a magnetic field, with the field lines being most concentrated at the poles.

If the Earth contained a large bar magnet, the south pole of that magnet would be near the geographic north, and the north pole of the magnet would be near the geographic south.

  • Although this concept helps with understanding Earth’s magnetic field, there is not actually a magnet in the Earth.

Navigating the Planet

The Earth’s magnetic field is useful for navigating the planet. A compass, for example, has a magnetic needle that aligns with the Earth’s magnetic field. This needle, when allowed to pivot freely, points to the magnetic north, giving us a consistent reference direction for navigation.

Because opposite poles attract, the north pole of a compass is drawn to the Earth’s magnetic south pole. Since the Earth’s magnetic south pole is located near its geographic north pole, the north pole of a compass will point towards the geographic north.