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Earth’s Poles Shifting: What Makes This Worrisome

May 15, 2024

Earth’s magnetic poles, located near the geographic poles, are essential to life and technology on our planet. Generated by movements within the molten iron core, the magnetic field they create shields Earth from harmful solar radiation and cosmic particles, making the planet habitable. This geomagnetic field also enables navigation for both humans and migratory animals, such as birds and sea turtles, who rely on it to traverse long distances. But the Earth’s magnetic field, with a North and South Pole, is not stable. According to BBC Science Focus, the police are gradually drifting.

Till 1990s, the North Pole moved at about 15 kilometres per year. But in years after that, the rate has sped up, to 55 kilometres per year towards Siberia.

This movement could lead to a ‘magnetic reversal’ in which the north and south poles change locations. This has happened 183 times in the past 83 million years, according to NASA. The time intervals between reversals have fluctuated widely, but average about 300,000 years.

Research done on the Earth’s magnetic field based on satellite observations has revealed that the current change is happening due to ‘blobs’ of unusually intense magnetic fields deep inside the planet. But experts have been unable to explain why the activity has increased.

When such reversals happen, there comes a time when the magnetic shield shrinks to zero before growing again with the opposite polarity.

What happens if Earth’s magnetic field disappears?

The Earth’s magnetic field plays a crucial role in sustaining life and protecting technological systems. This invisible shield extends from the Earth’s interior out into space, forming a protective bubble and shielding the planet from solar wind, a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun. But what if this vital magnetic field were to disappear? The consequences would be profound, affecting everything from the environment to human health and technology.

Without a shield, the deadly radiation would reach Earth thereby increasing the mutation rate of living cells and leading to cancers in animals.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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