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Earth is changing its magnetic poles gradually, ESA warns

The flipping of poles can cause significant climate change accompanied by a failure in the power grids. A flip in the magnetic pole also weakens the overall magnetic field covering the Earth. This could allow the entry of harmful solar winds along with electromagnetic radiations to the surface of Earth. Contrary to the popular belief, Earth has not two but four poles

Earth’s Magnetic Field

European Space Agency, in a new research, found that our planet is interchanging its magnetic poles gradually. Studying the reported data, scientists from ESA observed 15 percent decline in Earth’s magnetic field in last 200 years and is shifting 5 percent per year per decade, which indicates that a polar flip is on the cards. The flipping of magnetic poles has occurred regularly throughout the Earth’s history. As per the calculations, last time the magnetic poles flipped was almost 780,000 years ago. The magnetic poles are due for a flip, and this flip occurs within the next 2000 years.

The Earth has two magnetic poles (North pole and South pole) tilted at nearly 22 degrees. These poles are essential as magnetic field lines run between them from north to south outside the Earth and south to north inside the Earth which prevents our planet from harmful cosmic rays. Hence, they have been worried whether this rapid decline could be followed by a flip which could expose us to the devastating radiations from space.

Usually, shifting of the magnetic poles of the earth occurs every 200,000 to 300,000 years, as per ASA. So, it can be said that the full reversal of the earth’s poles is near. This swapping of poles occurs on a temporary basis, and magnetic poles return to their original position. According to ESA, the Earth’s magnetic poles are preparing for a shift and the consequences could be devastating.

When earth’s poles flip, it alters the climate and can also lead to failure of power grids. Also, the flipping of magnetic poles weakens the magnetic field of Earth and this lead to the entry of solar winds as well as electromagnetic radiations into Earth. The scientists have said that over the past 200 years, the earth’s magnetic field has weakened 15 percent. Our earth has actually four poles. Two poles are situated at the top, and the bottom portion of the earth called North and South Pole. These are called geographic poles. There are other two poles that come from inside the earth’s core known as the geomagnetic poles. The two geomagnetic poles generate the magnetic field for Earth and extend more than 10 Earth radii, or 63.7 million meters, out into space.

As per the ESA, most of the field is produced at depths greater than 3000 km by the movement of molten iron in the outer core. The rest 6 percent is s partly due to electrical currents in space surrounding Earth, and partly due to magnetised rocks in the upper lithosphere When the scientists looked at the information and satellite imageries collected by ESA’s Swarm Rio satellite they got to know that the north magnetic pole of Earth has shifted in the last 50 years and has caused damage to satellites orbiting right above the South Atlantic owing to the entry of charged particles from Sun and interstellar space. When poles flip or attempt to flip, the earth’s magnetic field weakens, and hence the solar radiations easily reach the earth’s surface. Also, the weakened magnetic field leads to power failure and also affects orbiting satellite.

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Dave Mustaine

Dave Mustaine

Dave, one of the associate writers at Science Examiner, has been taking care of all the space-related coverage. He loves to write about the latest happenings in space, and before joining Science Examiner, Dave was a part of the editorial board of a local magazine.


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