What’s Going On With the Earth’s Magnetic Field?
The Earth’s magnetic field is acting strangely enough for scientists to study it. And the changes that are coming are not well-understood at this point. Here’s what they’re saying could happen . . .
Every few thousand years, the Earth’s magnetic field flips. Based on the magnetic fingerprints scientists can see by studying ancient rocks, we know that magnetic north and south have flipped roughly every 200,000 to 300,000 years. Two events over the past 42,000 years have resulted in shift sin the magnetic field that didn’t result in complete flips. The last of these major reversals occurred about 780,000 years ago. That means we’re overdue for a shift.
The magnetic north pole is moving faster now northward than it has in the past. Scientists estimate the pole is migrating northward about 40 miles per year, as opposed to about 10 miles per year in the early 20th century. In the last decade alone, movement has increased by a third, throwing off compasses by roughly 1 degree every five years. So . . . if you took your compass class more than a few years ago, you might want to adjust for these new changes!
While there’s no consensus on when a flip will happen, when it does happen it will seriously impact the technology we’re using for aviation and navigation. Migratory animals that use the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation will be affected. We simply don’t know if these animals are capable of recalibrating their senses.
Some scientists predict that a weakening or a shift in the magnetic field will allow more solar radiation to reach Earth. This could have devastating effects on life. Some climate scientists say it’s possible that the Earth’s temperatures and climate could be greatly affected.
How will a shift or a reversal affect our society as a whole and our global civilizations? That’s another question we don’t know the answer to. The last time the Earth’s magnetic field shifted, there were no civilizations in existence to be affected.