New study reveals that Earth’s magnetic field won’t flip anytime soon. On the contrary, it seems that the weakening intensity that has been observed by scientists in the last few centuries is its way to recover after an unusual high.
The study published in the National Academy of Science’s Proceedings claims that the current intensity of our magnetic field has been 40 percent higher in the last few hundred years than it was in the past five million years.
Scientists have measured the magnetic field’s intensity in the past using a new technique. They analyzed pieces of cool lava from the equator and from the South Pole, dating as far as 5 million years in the past.
The iron-bearing minerals inside the cool lava align with the Earth’s magnetic field. Therefore, studying their direction at different periods in time can show the intensity and the direction of the magnetic field at the time the sample of lava has cooled down.
The team of scientists, formed from experts from several universities and institutions from the US and France, analyzed 27 samples of lava from Galapagos Islands, near the equator and 38 samples from Antarctica, near the South Pole.
They have been able to determine that the intensity of the magnetic field had been weaker during the past 5 million years than it is today but also that its poles inverted several times.
Researchers argue that even if the intensity of Earth’s magnetic field is decreasing, it hasn’t even reached its long-term historical value yet. So there is nothing to worry about or at least not during our lifetime.
However, in the last 100 million years, the magnetic poles have reversed for hundreds of times. It is believed that the most recent reversal happened 780,000 years ago.
Some scientists are wondering if the past switches of the magnetic poles had anything to do with the extinction of some species.
A flip of the magnetic field in the near future could have a negative impact on our technology, being able to take down our electrical grid.
Nobody can say for sure what would be its impact on the human body. However, if it would be preceded by periods of major weakening of the magnetic field, its impact on our health could be disastrous.
The magnetic field acts like a shield, protecting the Earth’s surface from cosmic winds and sun radiation. The weaker it gets, the more radiation passes through it.
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