Earth's Magnetic Poles Are About To Flip, Experts Warn

Posted: Feb 4 2018, 5:02am CST | by , Updated: Feb 4 2018, 9:33am CST , in Latest Science News


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Earth’s Magnetic Poles are About to Flip, Experts Warn
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

If north and south magnetic poles swap places, they can affect life on Earth

Earth is surrounded by an invisible force called magnetic field. It shields life on Earth from deadly cosmic rays and is crucial for our existence.

Earth’s magnetic field is believed to be generated deep down in the Earth’s core and is anchored by North and South poles. But the field is not consistent and is continuously changing. In the Earth’s long history, the magnetic field has flipped many times, during which north and south magnetic poles swap places.

Now researchers say that Earth’s magnetic poles are once again showing the signs of reversal and this change could affect life on Earth. One of the problems is that they cannot tell exactly when the pole reversal will occur.

Historically, Earth’s magnetic poles change places about every 200,000 to 300,000 years. The last time the pole reversal was happened in 780,000 years ago. However, the gap between these reversals can be very irregular and also not always end up in a clean backflip. Magnetic poles push and pull at one another throughout the process and could lead to dramatic consequences because many facets of our lives, from satellites to ground-based electrical infrastructure, depend on Earth’s magnetic field.

“We know that when they flip next time, the consequences for the electrical and electronic infrastructure that runs modern civilization will be dire. The question is when that will happen. In the past few decades, geophysicists have tried to answer that question through satellite imagery and math. They have figured out how to peer deep inside the Earth, to the edge of molten, metallic core where the magnetic field is continually being generated. It turns out that the dipole – the orderly two-pole magnetic field our compasses respond to – is under attack from within.” Undark reported.

“The latest satellite data, from the European Space Agency’s Swarm trio, which began reporting in 2014, show that the battle is raging at the edge of the core.”

During the reversal, a magnetic field transforms into a weaker and more complex form. It can lose a tremendous amount of its present-day strength. Researchers claim that changes within the Earth have already weakened the field over the South Atlantic to such an extent that satellites in the region have experienced memory failure.

“The north magnetic pole is on the run, a sign of enhanced turbulence and unpredictability. A cabal in the Southern Hemisphere has already gained the upper hand over about a fifth of the Earth’s surface. A revolution is shaping up,’ reads the magazine.

“If these magnetic blocs gain enough strength and weaken the dipole, even more, they will force the north and south poles to switch places as they strive to regain supremacy. Scientists can’t say for sure that is happening now — the dipole could beat back the interlopers. But they can say that the phenomenon is intensifying and that they can’t rule out the possibility that a reversal is beginning.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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