Will the Earth's magnetic poles change or not? What do scientists think?

19/06/2022
Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 19 June 2022, at 07:49 am Los Angeles time

The protective shell of our planet is no longer what it once was. In the last two centuries, its magnetic power has decreased and no one knows why. At the same time, a worrying phenomenon from this perspective, called the South Atlantic Anomaly, has appeared over the Atlantic Ocean and has already proved problematic for orbital satellite circuits. 

Both observations raise concerns that we may be witnessing signs of an imminent reconfiguration, that is, of what is called the reversal of the magnetic poles. 

Researchers who have conducted a new investigation, based on a model of the evolution of the Earth's magnetic field, show that we should not rush to assume that this will happen. 

"Based on the similarities with the simulated phenomena, we predict that the South Atlantic Anomaly is likely to disappear in the next 300 years and that the Earth is not heading for a reversal of polarity," said geologist Andreas Nilsson of Lund University in Sweden. 

However, if we were to be guided by our geological history, this may happen in the future, at some point in the history of the planet. What such a reversal would mean to mankind is unclear. 

The last time such a monumental event took place, only 42,000 years ago, life on Earth went through a difficult period. And the effects could be felt even stronger now, in our hyper-technological world. 

In the new study, researchers at Lund University and Oregon State University reconstructed a detailed chronology of our planet's magnetic envelope, which extends to the last ice age, by analyzing samples of volcanic rocks, sediments, and artifacts from around the world.

"We've mapped changes in the Earth's magnetic field over the last 9,000 years, and anomalies like the South Atlantic are likely to be recurring phenomena due to the corresponding variations in the Earth's magnetic field," says Nilsson. 

With a thousand-year perspective, it quickly becomes clear that the weak point in the South Atlantic is not completely out of the ordinary. 

Around 1600 BC a similar geological change took place, which last about 1,300 years before stabilizing again. 

Even with very detailed studies like this, it will be a long time before humanity can have an answer to this dilemma and, even more so, until we consider ourselves ready for such a scenario. 

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