To those of us wondering when will the Apocalypse take place, we might have an answer. During the last 200 years, Earth’s magnetic field has weakened by 15%. This has led scientists to believe that our planet is undergoing a magnetic pole reversal.
This is a lot scarier than the name suggests as it will permanently affect life as we know it.
The Earth is protected against cosmic rays by its magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is generated by our planet’s molten metallic core. Once every 450,000 years or so, the magnetic North and South poles shift and this process takes anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 years to complete.
During a magnetic pole reversal, the Earth’s magnetic field is weakened. This process has a severe impact on most life forms. The last geomagnetic reversal occurred 781,000 years ago and scientists believe we are due another in a relatively short period of time. The last time this happened, the magnetic field dropped to around 5% of its current intensity.
All electronic devices would be rendered unusable, effectively sending us back to the Middle Ages. Society as we know it would rapidly crumble.
The weather patterns on Earth would change drastically as storms and hurricanes would increase in intensity and frequency. Freak storms would rage all over.
There are several hypotheses that link magnetic reversals to mass extinctions.
All migratory animals rely on the lines of the magnetic field. Flying birds have magnetic sensitive areas in their brains. In the absence of the current magnetism, these animals would behave erratically and their numbers would certainly dwindle.
The ozone layer would be severely affected as the magnetic poles shift. This would lead to an increase in cancer incidence as cosmic rays would penetrate our atmosphere more easily. The high energy particles trapped in the Van Allen radiation belt could be liberated and they would bombard the Earth.
A hypothesis advanced by McCormac and Evans postulates that during a magnetic pole reversal the Earth’s field would disappear altogether. According to these researchers, the atmosphere of Mars may have been stripped away by the solar wind because it lacked protection from a magnetic field. They predict our own atmosphere would lose ions at altitudes of over 60 miles (100 kilometers). While humanity optimistically looks forward to the terraforming of Mars, some believe a fate similar to that of Mars awaits our blue planet. Are we unknowingly heading to our doom?
A magnetic pole reversal is not something we can prevent. It is a planetary event that has been regularly occurring for billions of years. All we can do is hope it won’t happen until humankind has found a way to successfully cope with its effects.