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Scientists: Magnetic polar reversal may have started

Scientists: Magnetic polar reversal may have started

Helium
February 16, 2011

Concern has been mounting for almost a decade as scientists hunched over their instruments and double-checked new data concerning the status of the Earth’s crucial magnetic field.

The magnetic field protects all life from damaging solar radiation. Exposure to such radiation can cause cancer and mutate DNA. Some researchers believe evolution has been driven in part by epochs marked by a failing or weak magnetic field that allowed the surface of the world to be bathed with intense ultra-violet and other deadly forms of life-changing radiation.

Tipping point

Now new evidence has emerged leading some scientists to believe that the magnetic pole shift—an ongoing phenomenon that has been happening for decades—has reached a tipping point.

According to a report issued by the prestigious British Geological Survey (BGS), evidence suggests the magnetic reversal has begun.

The BGS has taken this position based on careful analysis of a region of the Earth known as the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA). It’s an area where the magnetic field is in a state of flux and has weakened noticeably. The data shows the anomaly is growing rapidly and spreading west from South Africa.

All of this indicates the Earth’s liquid core is changing.

“This may be early evidence of a forthcoming reversal in the direction of the Earth’s internal magnetic field,” states the article on the BGS website.

The horrible truth

Why scientists and others are not eager to share is the fact that no one alive has a clue what will happen as the magnetic field weakens and shifts and then flips.

There are educated guesses and best guesses. There are extrapolations and assumptions. And there are theories—lot’s of them. They range from the shift causing minor inconveniences like recalibrating runways at airports like the facility in Tampa was recently forced to do, to Doomsday scenarios where the entire field disappears exposing all life—including human life—to blistering, deadly radiation and the ghastly mutations that follow.

Some geophysicists believe that the process of magnetic pole shift takes hundreds or thousands of years. Yet others point to an 11,500 year cycle and evidence of a correlation between leaps in evolution (they argue driven by radiation exposure).

Data points

Woolly mammoths went extinct when the Gothenburg magnetic reversal occurred some 11,500 years ago.

The Earth collapsed into a catastrophic Ice Age when the Mono Lake magnetic reversal took place 23,000 years ago.

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