Aside from catastrophic climate change, deadly supervolcano eruptions, cataclysmic earthquakes, or any of the other ways the Earth is trying to kill us, the Earth’s magnetic field may someday be a source of disaster. Many doomsday predictions revolve around the hypothetical havoc a magnetic pole reversal could wreak, despite NASA’s assurances that we’ll all be fine. Based on geological evidence, scientists believe the Earth’s magnetic poles reverse around every 200,000 to 300,000 years, although it’s been over twice that long since the last reversal.
Scientists using new European Space Agency satellite swarms have detected that the Earth’s magnetosphere is on a weakening trend and unexplained magnetic anomalies are popping up around the world. Now, new data has revealed further anomalous activity in our planet’s magnetic field, and geologists don’t know exactly what’s going on. Could those doomsday predictions be on to something?
Probably not. As it turns out, some scientists actually think the poles aren’t due to reverse any time soon despite their geological tardiness. and the strange weakening events detected. The University of Liverpool’s Richard Holme recently published a study which argues that despite these recent anomalies, a reversal event may be unlikely when current data is compared with historical reversal events:
By studying the two most recent excursion events, we show that neither bear resemblance to current changes in the geomagnetic field and therefore it is probably unlikely that such an event is about to happen. Our research suggests instead that the current weakened field will recover without such an extreme event, and therefore is unlikely to reverse.
Instead, this research argues, the Earth might be experiencing what’s known as a “geomagnetic excursion” in which the magnetic field weakens and comes close to reversing before returning to its original structure. Still, that doesn’t mean there will be no ill effects of all this geomagnetic weirdness. More and more airliners have been grounded by unexplained in-flight illnesses lately, possibly demonstrating the effects of increased cosmic radiation penetrating the Earth’s weakened magnetic field. Could even worse side-effects be on the way?