Whether you believe it or not the earth has a magnetic shield that is very important to our everyday life. The magnetic shield helps protect the planet, and it’s occupants (that’s us) from some of the sun’s dangerous electromagnetic radiation.
When the poles are about to flip, which they do every 200,000 to 300,000 years, the magnetic field is thought to weaken as it is doing now. The problem is the last pole flip happened 780,000 years ago, so we are very much overdue.
The magnetic poles are not aligned with the axis of rotation of the earth. This causes “magnetic declination” and is why a compass reading has to be corrected to get the true bearing. Magnetic declination is different depending on where you live geographically. The magnetic declination of Espanola ON for example is around 10 degrees “west” whereas the declination of Halifax is closer to 20 degrees. Edmonton however has a declination of 14 degrees “east”. Not only does the declination vary depending on where you are but it also is always changing because the magnetic poles are moving or “drifting”. The north and south poles have moved so much in the last few years that the military has requested an update ahead of schedule. The south pole is not even on land anymore! The continent of Antarctica which is very large, is located at the geographical South Pole. The magnetic south pole has moved so much it is not on land anymore but instead on the ocean.
In the image shown below the thin blue line is the axis of rotation of the earth. The thicker red line shows the magnetic pole axis. Notice that they are not in the same place.