Airports Have to Change Runway Names When Magnetic North Moves
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The 9,000-foot runway 17L/35R at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport won't be called that when it reopens after construction, per Aviation International News. Turns out, those runway numbers actually mean something.
Austin's under-construction runway will now be 18L/36R, and it's all because the location of the magnetic north pole keeps changing. Magnetic north can move up to 40 miles in one year, according to Wired.
While the inner core of the Earth is solid, the outer core of the earth is liquid, and mostly made of molten iron and nickel, as the National Centers for Environmental Information explains. That flow within the outer core generates 95% of the Earth's magnetic field, and because it's fairly irregular, that causes magnetic north to move around a bit.
Thus, a runway name change can even happen to runways that...