Possible Flip in Earth’s Magnetic Field Could Affect Climate and Technology, scientists warn

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The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from dangerous radiation and geomagnetic activities, but scientists warned that a complete flip is possible. Dr. Ofer Cohen, a physicist at the University of Massachusetts, said, “A reversal could have a big impact on Earth’s climate and our modern technology.”

Many questions and very few answers

The Earth’s magnetic field has flipped every 200,000 to 300,000 years for the past 20 million years. Not much is known about the next geomagnetic flip, though it is not something that could occur overnight. Since the Earth’s magnetic field is unstable, the poles can migrate until the South becomes the north pole and vice versa.

Dr. Cohen explained to Study Finds how the Earth’s magnetic field creates a magnetic “bubble” known as the magnetosphere. The gradual pole shifts may cause conducting layers to “have some local irregular motions due to local turbulence or smaller flows that do not follow the large-scale pattern.”

The physicist explained, “These small-scale deviations in the magnetic field can actually lead to changes in the large-scale field over time and potentially even a complete reversal of the polarity of the dipole field, where the north becomes south and vice versa.” The turmoil of the magnetosphere could lead to elevated exposure to cosmic radiation and risks to satellites, astronauts, and large conducting systems like power grids and pipelines.

The rate of shift has been accelerating

The worrying trend was noticed, as Study Finds reported. The magnetic north pole has shifted approximately 600 miles since its first measuring in 1831, but the shift rate has accelerated from 10 to 34 miles per year.

Study Finds writes, “Scientists can tell how often the magnetic field reverses by looking at volcanic rocks in the ocean.” However, not even the brightest minds can determine when the next significant shift will occur, though it is known that it could expose the Earth to cosmic radiation and even change the ozone concentration in the atmosphere.

Dr. Cohen is optimistic, as he states, “We can keep mapping and tracking the movement of Earth’s magnetic north.” The professor also shared that the recent acceleration might indicate the start of a field reveals, though “scientists really can’t tell with less than 200 years of data.”

Check out the video explaining how Earth’s magnetic shield serves as a protector.