New studies show that our magnetic field is feeling a bit shaky, but it will not flip any time soon.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the current patterns of the Earth’s magnet poles look similar to a situation 49,000 – 46,000 years. During that period, there was a considerable drop in the field’s strength. However, the magnet field did not flip. Regardless, scientists don’t have a clear picture about the Earth’s magnetic pole, but it probably won’t flip.
The last flip happened some 780,000 years ago. And while it will happen again, it will not happen any time soon. Mound says…
The overall conclusion is consistent with other recent studies that indicate that the current decline in the field strength is not a precursor to reversal. Field strength does fluctuate quite a bit through time and there doesn’t appear to be anything particularly unusual about either the current strength or rate of change.
However, the biggest issue is that we do not know why all of this is happening. And that part is slightly scary. There is always that what if factor.
So what if the magnet poles do flip?
Well, we would survive. However, our ozone layer would be weaker, and on some “hotspots” on Earth, there would be more skin cancer. This would also decrease the general strength of the magnet fields, which means that a strong enough solar storm would result in a really bad day – all of the electronics would be fried. That, and we would have to replace the current GPS systems.
Other than that, we’d be fine.
So to sum of…
Fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field is nothing new and unusual. It is just that we don’t know much about it that causes a lot of “what ifs” and uncertainties.
Source: popular science, PNAS