It’s a moment which doomsday fans are frankly obsessed with – when Earth’s magnetic field flips from north to south, bringing chaos to our wired world. Killer whale ‘learns to talk’ and blow raspberries at humans Scientists say there are signs that Earth’s magnetic poles could be about to flip for the first time in 786,000 years – and the ‘switch’ could have drastic effects on our electronic world.
Daniel Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, says early signs are already here – and the flip could turn some areas of our planet ‘uninhabitable’.
Our planet’s magnetic field has weakened 15% in the past 200 years – which could be an early warning sign. If the poles flip, compasses will point south – and it could have significant effects on Earth’s power grid (although it’s not likely to happen immediately, despite doomsday-mongers’ obsession with the idea). A report by Undark suggests that the ‘flip’ could allow radiation to reach Earth’s surface, and play havoc with satellites.
Earths magnetic field, computer artwork Getty Scientists are using satellites to analyse the shifts in Earth’s magnetic field – and seen that the north magnetic pole is ‘turbulent and unpredictable’, Futurism reports. But before you head for the doomsday bunkers,
it’s probably not going to happen right away – with scientists predicting a ‘flip’ sometime in the next 2,000 years. It also won’t happen immediately, instead happening over the course of several hundred years – giving us ample time to prepare.
NASA has poured cold water on the idea that magnetic field reversals could lead to an apocalypse, saying in 2012 that, ‘The science shows that magnetic pole reversal is – in terms of geologic time scales – a common occurrence that happens gradually over millennia.
‘While the conditions that cause polarity reversals are not entirely predictable – the north pole’s movement could subtly change direction, for instance – there is nothing in the millions of years of geologic record to suggest that any of the doomsday scenarios connected to a pole reversal should be taken seriously.’