The earth's magnetic field is something most of the people living on this planet never think about, however without it life would not be sustainable. It keeps water and atmosphere in place, and shields us from harmful radiation. Throughout millenia it has changed, but recently it's acting up in such a way that geologists cannot explain why.
If anyone has ever used a compass, you can understand how this magnetic field exists even though it can't be seen. The North Pole is moving, but not just moving, it's doing it much quicker than anticipated from Canada towards Siberia.
The magnetic field is affected by liquid iron that churns in the Earth's core, and it is known that it does this on a consistent basis, which is why geophysicists check it on a yearly basis.
In 2016 satellites captured a temporary acceleration of the magnetic fields under northern South America and the eastern Pacific Ocean. A large area of the magnetic field from Chile to Zimbabwe had become so weak that it risked allowing hazardous level of radiation to damage electronics from passing satellites.
In 2018, the pole crossed the International Date Line into the Eastern Hemisphere, shifting towards Siberia.
At the end of January 2019, the World Magnetic Model (WMM) which was issued in 2015, is updating a year earlier than planned. This model is used for all technology that uses geopositioning. It was determined that so many changes have been made that it had to be revised much earlier than planned.
The earth's magnetic field has been shifting for the last 1000 years. The location appears to be affected by two large magnetic fields, one beneath Canada, the other beneath Siberia.
In 1831 the movement of the poles started to be tracked. It was found that the north magnetic pole in the Arctic Ocean moved at a rate of less than 10 miles per year. This changed in the 1990s, and since then it has sped up to about 30 miles per year. It appears that the magnetic field underneath Siberia has more pull.
This is not the first time that the Earth's magnetic pole switches place. Scientists have found evidence of this in ancients rocks which reflect that every 200,000 to 300,00 years this happens, and the last major reversal occurred over 750,000 years ago.
If you do the arithmetic we are overdue for a shift and it appears imminent, however polar flips occur at a sluggish pace that lasts thousands of years. The ultimate change when it is complete is that the directions will be reversed, and that animals that use the magnetic fields for navigation could get lost during their migratory patterns.
The only way this would be a doomsday event is if this occurs rapidly, which it is not set to do based on prior evidence of pole shifts.
An insidious negative effect though is that weakened magnetic fields allow the earth to be exposed to higher levels of radiation, that will affect humans, animals and power grids on the planet. However even at the pace this would happen allows us to plan ways to protect from these effects.
Source - Nature
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