Earth’s Magnetic Field is Going to Flip Soon!
Earth’s magnetic field is our great protector, shielding us from dangerous incoming solar radiation that would otherwise make life on Earth almost impossible. However, the strength of the field has changed through geological time, with the poles of the planet’s magnet switching dramatically at somewhat random intervals – roughly between 200,000 and 5 million years. Although the field strength has been dropping for the past two centuries, a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests it is not in danger of flipping any time soon.
Our planet’s magnetic field appears to be quite chaotic: It undergoes not only reversals, but also excursions wherein the poles “wander,” changing their coordinates on the surface of the planet rapidly with respect to geological time, before suddenly switching back to “normal.” Although the most recent reversal occurred 780,000 years ago, the poles temporarily flipped during an excursion in the middle of the last ice age 41,000 years ago.