A new study indicates that the planet’s magnetic field is in no danger of flipping its polarity for at least another 1,000 years.
On the contrary, it seems that the weakness in intensity that has been observed in the last few centuries is on its way to recover.
A previous research indicated that this weakness in the geomagnetic field was a sign that the planetary flip out was about to occur. Over the past couple of hundred years, the strength of the Earth’s geomagnetic field has been fading.
This had lead scientists to wonder if our planet’s polarity could flip at any time. This new study, made by researchers from Columbia University and MIT published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests we can stop worrying about that. It actually shows that the intensity of today’s field is unusually strong.
Why should be we worried about a polarity flip?
The magnetic field protects us from harmful solar radiations and cosmic rays. If these start fading away, it may affect every living creature on Earth. An increase in radiation exposure may not only lead to serious health outcomes, but also some genetic disorders could occur. Some biologists even fear that direct exposure to harmful solar radiations may result in mass extinctions.
Not only could some severe health consequence fallow the weakening of magnetic field. In a less concerning outcome, but still very worrisome it could lead to a severe disturbance in satellites, power grids, mobile networks and technology.
Why should be stop worrying about it?
The findings show that even though the magnetic field is dropping fast, the current field intensity has a long way to fall before reaching an unstable level that would lead to a setback. This means that the field is still unusually strong. The researchers found that the time-averaged geomagnetic field intensity over the past 5 million years is about 60% of the field’s intensity today.
“The results fit expectations that the intensity of the earth’s magnetic field should be twice at the equator” they said.
Researchers also stated that if you take a constant present-day constant rate, it will take another 1000 years for the field to drops to its long-term average. Even though they explained that this is not the first time our planet is in danger of a polar flip and that these are highly unpredictable, there is no need to worry –not at least for a very long time.
Scientists from MIT and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory arrived at their conclusion by analyzing rocks erupted from dozens of ancient volcanoes on the Galapagos Islands. They chose this site because the islands are located very close to the equator, where the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field is exactly half of what it is at the poles.
Source: Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences