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New research has reported that a magnetic shift of the poles could happen in the near future. It was about 800,000 years ago, that magnetic north drifted over Antarctica and reindeer were found in magnetic south. The poles have reversed numerous times during Earth’s history.
Scientists have predicted that a flip sequence begins when the magnetic field starts waning over the course of about a thousand years, then the poles switch and the field spirals back up to top strength. However, the new research report stated that the last time the poles reversed, it took just 100 years for the flip to occur.
The European Space Agency (ESA) collected information this summer and found that the Earth’s magnetic field is presently in a weakening state. The ESA satellite’s data proposed the field was weakening nearly 10 times faster than scientists originally believed. They had thought that a pole reversal might happen within the next thousand years, but it seems that may be an extremely generous estimate.
Scientists are not sure as to why the sphere’s magnetic field’s flip like they do. Earth contains an iron core, which performs like a massive magnet and produces the magnetic energy that surrounds the globe. This aids in protecting against radiation blasts that come from the Sun and from time to time plunge toward Earth. A fading magnetic field might disturb power networks, radio communications and saturate the globe in very high doses of radiation.
While the satellite was studying the field from above, a group of scientists examined it from the ground. The investigators mined through prehistoric lake residues, which had been uncovered at the bottom of the Apennine Mountains in Italy. They looked at the remainder of ash because it is made from magnetically sensitive materials, which contain smidgens of the Earth’s magnetic lines. The scientists were able to figure out the degree the field was aiming toward.
The researchers next used a procedure known as argon-argon dating. It is a process that works because radioactive potassium-40 deteriorates into argon-40 at a certain rate. That helps define the period of the rock residue. The layers were collected over hundreds of thousands of years, and the scientists were able to figure out where the flip occurred by looking at the layer of rocks. The last reversal occurred about 800,000 years ago.
Researchers do not know where the magnetic field is at the present time in the actual flip process or if the coming pole reversal will actually follow a similar pattern as the last flip. The main thing is that nobody is sure when the event will actually happen.
Even though a pole reversal might create several technical problems, scientists stated there was no need to worry about the event. They have looked at environmental timelines to see if there was any indication of disasters happening across the globe that could have been related to a magnetic pole reversal but to date they have found none.
However, if the magnetic field did go down an adequate amount or even briefly disappear during the flip, then the Earth might be struck with hazardous quantities of radiation from the Sun. Such contact might lead to more individuals coming down with cancer. Yet, there is no scientific evidence that such events would occur with a magnetic shift of the poles.
By Kimberly Ruble