The magnetic field generated around planet Earth is paramount for life to be sustained. The field prevents harmful solar radiation from reaching the atmosphere. Scientists are forever monitoring the changes happening around the earth. In so doing, they found that the magnetic field has been decreasing in strength faster and faster over time. Could this mean something dangerous is awaiting Earth?
Our solar system is such that earth is able to sustain life like no other planet can. From its position to its distance from the sun, everything is ideal for life – all the conditions have been grouped together for Earth to flourish with all types of creatures. One of these is its magnetic field.
What is the Earth’s Magnetic field?
Earth generates its magnetic field from its very core. It is thought that the flow of liquids that occurs at the inner core which is made of iron mostly, and at the level of the outer core made of other metals is the primary factor that generates a magnetic field around the whole planet. These fluids move about, generating electric currents which, in turn, account for the magnetic field. Earth’s magnetic field acts as a protective barrier against the ultraviolet radiation emanating from the sun.
Our atmosphere is protected as the field shields us from the solar wind which is represented by charged particles which are emitted by the sun. All goes to say that the magnetic field generated by the Earth is crucial for life.
Now, imagine what would happen if the magnetic field were to decrease in intensity and ultimately stop functioning?
Weakened Earth’s Magnetic Field – Not Far Fetched
Maybe this is not as far-fetched since some researchers from Europe have discovered that the Earth’s magnetic field might be weakening. What has been observed is that the magnetic field has weakened over the western hemisphere, while it has gained in strength over the region of the south of the Indian Ocean.
The reason as to why it declined in strength is as yet unknown. A possible reason would be that the magnetic poles are shifting. Information gleaned by scientists point to this said displacement: the magnetic north seems to be inclining towards Siberia. Of course, this shift would not happen in a few days, let alone months; this process would take thousands of years. It would also not be the first time that the magnetic pole has flipped. Every other time (say, in a period of hundreds of thousands of years), a compass would point south instead of north – this is a normal process that occurs whereby the magnetic poles flip.
Weakening of Earth’s Magnetic Happening 10x Faster
So, the flipping mechanism is considered to be normal and it might be the reason behind the weakening of the earth’s magnetic field. But, the recent results of the scientists have shown that the weakening of the magnetism is happening faster now, more than ever of what is known by us. Some time back, it was speculated that the decline in strength was at around 5 % per century. Now, the new observations of the scientists suggest that this is happening per decade – 10 times faster. The flipping of the poles would not take thousand of years, if this theory were to be true.
As is characteristic of science, one answer or speculation leads to many more questions. More research has to be done to find out the real reason behind the weakening of the earth’s magnetic field. Let’s say it were to weaken beyond repair. Would this mean that that would be the end of the earth? No evidence from the scientific world exists to prove this though.