Don't panic
Swedish-American research team
Over 9,000 years of data
The South Atlantic Anomaly
Recurring phenomena
A new challenge for Earth
Are we in danger?
Nothing new under the sun
773,000 years late
When north goes south
A relatively recent finding
The Magnetic Fields is not just a 1990s rock band
What is the magnetosphere, anyway?
Breaking solar winds
The northern (and southern) lights
Earth's magnetic field is growing weaker
Wandering North Pole
34 miles per year
In Siberia by 2040
The effects of a magnetic pole reversal
Cosmic rays
Damage on technology
How long will it take?
Don't hold your breath
Let's focus on other problems
Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(1/25)
Don't panic

In a Popular Mechanics June 2022 article, it's been revealed that Earth's magnetic poles aren't switching positions after all.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(2/25)
Swedish-American research team

The paper, titled 'Recurrent ancient geomagnetic field anomalies shed light on future evolution of the South Atlantic Anomaly' was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was written by a team from Lund University in Sweden and Oregon State University.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(3/25)
Over 9,000 years of data

The researchers analyzed over 9,000 years of data, fixing errors they found present when handling such a large amount of data.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(4/25)
The South Atlantic Anomaly

The pole reversal speculation was fueled by a mysterious weakening of the South Atlantic magnetic field, known as The South Atlantic Anomaly.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(5/25)
Recurring phenomena

“The anomalies like the one in the South Atlantic are probably recurring phenomena linked to corresponding variations in the strength of the Earth's magnetic field”, Andreas Nilsson, a geologist at Lund University and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Image: Greg Rosenke / Unsplash

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(6/25)
A new challenge for Earth

However, one can't help to wonder what would happen if scientists were wrong and such pole reversal became a reality.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(7/25)
Are we in danger?

What outcome could such an event bring? Are we really in danger? And if it was true, how would it take for the magnetic poles to switch? Let's try to answer some of these questions…

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(8/25)
Nothing new under the sun

Geomagnetic pole reversal is a natural phenomenon that has already happened several times to our planet, usually every 200,000 or 300,000 years.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(9/25)
773,000 years late

What is disconcerting is that the last time the geomagnetic poles flipped happened 773,000 years ago, an amount of time that doesn't match what the experts know so far.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(10/25)
When north goes south

Magnetic field reversal happens when the North Pole and the South Pole switch positions.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(11/25)
A relatively recent finding

It's a relatively recent finding, discovered in 1906 by French geophysicist Bernard Brunhes, while he studied magnetism on lava rocks.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(12/25)
The Magnetic Fields is not just a 1990s rock band

Earth's magnetic field is fundamental for human survival on Earth. It starts out inside the Earth's core and expands towards outer space in what is known as the magnetosphere.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(13/25)
What is the magnetosphere, anyway?

The magnetosphere is a layer that surrounds the Earth and creates an electromagnetic shield that protects our planet from the stream of charged particles that come from the sun, better known as solar winds.

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Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(14/25)
Breaking solar winds

Solar winds and other cosmic rays are harmful to life on Earth. The magnetosphere shields our planet from them, like a breakwater parting waves from the ocean.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(15/25)
The northern (and southern) lights

Sometimes, when the solar winds are too intense, creating a disturbance on Earth's atmosphere, near the poles. These results in an unusual light display known as Aurora Borealis in the Arctic and Aurora Australis in the Antarctic.

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Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(16/25)
Earth's magnetic field is growing weaker

A 2016 study made by Chris Finlay, professor of geomagnetism of the Technical University of Denmark, proven that Earth's magnetic field is growing weaker, which could create serious problems to its ability as a protective shield against cosmic rays.

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Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(17/25)
Wandering North Pole

Besides, Earth's magnetic field is also moving. Scientists have pointed out that the Magnetic North Pole has been moving from Canada to Russia at an unusually fast pace.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(18/25)
34 miles per year

The magnetic pole was migrating 15 kilometers (around 9 miles) in 1904 and kept the same pace until 1989 when it sped up. Another acceleration in 2007 made it move to a speed of 55 kilometers (around 34 miles) per year.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(19/25)
In Siberia by 2040

Larry Newitt, from the Geological Survey of Canada, estimated that the Magnetic North Pole would have already crossed the Atlantic and be in Siberia by 2040.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(20/25)
The effects of a magnetic pole reversal

Not much is known about the effects of past magnetic pole reversals. However, what is true is that such an event, along with the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, could leave humanity exposed to cosmic rays.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(21/25)
Cosmic rays

Being exposed to cosmic rays could be very dangerous if we're unprepared and not carrying the right protection.

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Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(22/25)
Damage on technology

Besides, its consequences could potentially affect technology, something we depend on in our everyday life.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(23/25)
How long will it take?

This all might sound like science fiction, but magnetic pole reversal could be more real than we suspect. Many are wondering when something like this could happen?

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(24/25)
Don't hold your breath

We can all be calm for the time being. Scientists estimate that it could take at least 20,000 years for Earth to fully switch its magnetic poles.

Ciencia y salud
Earth's magnetic poles aren't flipping after all
(25/25)
Let's focus on other problems

20,000 years is more than enough time to keep our minds out of cosmic rays and focus on more pressing issues that are a real threat to human life on Earth, such as climate change.

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