Are Earth’s Poles Flipping? - What To Know:
Periodic inversion of Earth’s Magnetic-Poles.
We often hear from the science community that earth’s magnetic poles (Not those Geographic poles) are moving and are about to interchange their current positions. Where many of us wouldn't have believed this, I agree, but trust me it’s true and we might be in danger.
What is a Magnetosphere:
Earth is very much similar to a bar magnet which we used to play during our childhood or when we worked in physics lab, except it’s very big, suspended freely in space. Thousands of kilometers below the surface of Earth due to immense pressure and heat all the metals and other elements turn to liquid and flow randomly which is one of the reasons for earthquakes and Tectonic plate movements. These moving liquids cause electric currents which in-turn produces Magnetic Fields (Dynamo Theory). Due to it’s large size and density earth produces a very strong magnetic field around it which is called the Magnetosphere.
Why do we need a Magnetic field:
This giant magnetic field is one of the most important and deciding factor for a planet to support life. The strong Magnetic force helps in holding the atmosphere onto the surface of the planet and blocks most of the harmful radiation from the sun and deep space. Earth continuously receives an ocean of highly energetic particles from the sun which can destroy our power grid, communication systems and harm living organisms by causing mutations similar to those you get by being exposed to radio-active materials unless stopped by our magnetosphere.
Why does it change:
As the molten metals inside the earth moves so does the magnetic-field induced by it and so we have our magnetic poles changing position, but this rate of change is very slow that it barely concerns us. This shift in position and inversion is quite common in geological time scales, there had been about 183 reversals over the past 83 million years. This shift in field does not follow regular cycles and is really hard to predict the next shift. The last shift called “The Brunhes–Matuyama reversal” occurred about 781,000 years ago and about the magnetic poles weakened temporarily and rapidly but never flipped.
Effects of the change:
As the poles shift the magnetic field they get weakened and Auroras will be visible at other places across the globe. Decreased field strength allows more radiation into the atmosphere which has a direct effect on our ecosystem. All our navigation systems should be configured with the new Goe-Magnetic poles. NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information) studies and tracks the changes in the field strength and the movements of poles through sophisticated techniques and maps the overall field around the globe.
NOAA publishes this data through WMM ( World Magnetic Model ) and updates it every five years but due to the rapid shift in the position of the poles they released an out of cycle update this year and also intend to release the regular update by 2020. Earth’s north pole is shifting rapidly and is moving towards Siberia from the Canadian Arctic region. But don’t worry they are not gonna flip with in a year or two, It generally takes a couple of centuries to thousands of years to complete this process and I’m pretty sure that humanity can find a way to deal with the changes during this shift.