Earth’s Magnetic Field Could Flip Within A Human Lifetime

The earth’s magnetic field could flip in just 100 years, researchers have found. The move, which would mean all compasses pointed south instead of north, was thought to take thousands of years. However, a new study found it can happen far faster. Earth’s magnetic field has flipped many times throughout the planet’s history. Its dipole magnetic field, like that of a bar magnet, remains about the same intensity for thousands to millions of years. Then, for unknown reasons, it weakens and, reverses direction. Thenew study by a team of scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrates that the last magnetic reversal 786,000 years ago actually happened very quickly, in less than 100 years – roughly a human lifetime. ‘It’s amazing how rapidly we see that reversal,’ said UC Berkeley graduate student Courtney Sprain. ‘The paleomagnetic data are very well done. This is one of the best records we have so far of what happens during a reversal and how quickly these reversals can happen.’

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