ESA has examined an opening in the magnetic field of our planet, but scientists are still not sure how to explain the mystery. According to a team of experts, the magnetic shield that surrounds Earth has debilitated by an average of none percent throughout the last 200 years.
The South Atlantic Anomaly
One spot, in particular, known as the South Atlantic Anomaly, has become incredibly weak; the area extends all the way from Chile to Zimbabwe. The Earth’s magnetic field is produced by the liquid iron outer core rotating around the solid inner core. The active movement creates an invisible field that goes through the north and south of the planet and orbiting it, which goes to the Earth’s North and South Poles.
Life on Earth depends on the magnetic shield, which is also known as the magnetosphere, as it helps to protect it from lethal radiation from space. Moreover, many species of animals, more predominantly birds, have a sense of the magnetic pole that enables them to successfully travel through the world during periods of mass-migration.
Because of its importance for Earth, researchers from the European Space Agency (ESA) have used its Swarm satellite in order to better learn about this oddity. Swarm probes are created to detect and accurately measure the various magnetic signals that make up the planet’s magnetic field.
Jürgen Matzka, from the German Research Centre for Geosciences, said: “The new, eastern minimum of the South Atlantic Anomaly has appeared over the last decade and in recent years is developing vigorously. We are very lucky to have the Swarm satellites in orbit to investigate the development of the South Atlantic Anomaly. The challenge now is to understand the processes in Earth’s core driving these changes.”
Earth’s Poles Switch Every Few Thousands of Years
Some researchers suggest that the weakening of the magnetic field could lead to a magnetic pole reversal, which is a natural phenomenon that had thought to take place every 200,000 to 300,000 years when the north and south poles switch.
The poles tried to switch 40,000 years ago, but the process allegedly failed. Therefore, the last time the poles swapped was 780,000 years ago, which means that we are long overdue a turn in the magnetic field.
When the flip does happen, it will decrease the magnetic field’s power by about 90 percent for a few decades. Because it is believed that humans did not exist when the last switch took place, it is impossible to precisely foresee how it would impact the human species.
However, with a weakened magnetic shield, the planet would become more exposed to solar storms. These events are created by radiation that slams Earth and heats up in the outer atmosphere, making it expand.