Earth's Magnetic Pole Reversals / 'Flips'

punychicken

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earth undergoing pole reversal , thing is its going to take a little while...

The Earth's magnetic poles might be starting to flip say researchers who have seen strange anomalies in our planet's magnetic field.

The magnetic field is created by the flow of molten iron inside the Earth's core. These circulation patterns are affected by the planet's rotation, so the field normally aligns with the Earth's axis - forming the north and south poles.

But the way minerals are aligned in ancient rock shows that the planet's magnetic dipole occasionally disappears altogether, leaving a much more complicated field with many poles all over the planet. When the dipole comes back into force, the north and south poles can swap places.

The last reversal happened about 780,000 years ago, over a period of several thousand years. Now Gauthier Hulot from the Institute of Earth Sciences in Paris and his colleagues think they have spotted early signs of another reversal.
 

marion

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Interesting , my Geology teacher used to scare us with speculations of violent sudden pole reversals , and delighted in telling us we were just about due for the next one ( the sod ) . Now I can stop worrying !
 

punychicken

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hope its not going to be sudden... think I remember reading in the article that the last one took a couple of thousand years. If that's the case then we can put our feet up and not worry too much(fingers x'd!)
 

rynner2

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When the field is down the biosphere will lose its protection from energetic charged particles from space, such as cosmic rays and solar storm mass ejections.

These presumably will increase the mutation rate, perhaps with large evolutionary effects such as extinctions and increased speciation rates.
 
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Anonymous

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Erm, wasn't it about 780,000 years ago that forebears of mankind were driven to within a hair breadth of extinction? I seem to recall some study showing that back then the gene pool was enormous, but it suddenly narrowing at one distinct point in time - the signature of a close call on the old extinction-event horizon...? Can anyone confirm or deny this?
 

marion

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Maybe that was the last but one Krakatoa eruption or maybe that was a different near extinction event ? Seems scarey but really would do the world a lot of good . Sound like there would be pretty skies too .
 

intaglio

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Marion said:
. . . Sound like there would be pretty skies too .
"OOH, Mummy look at the sky! whats that lovely blue light?"

"Its Cherenkov radiation, Jonny, Its made by all those big fast cosmic rays that are no longer deflected by the magnetic field. Now come in dear and hang your rad-suit up"

"OK mummy, Why do we have that funny box on the sideboard,"

"Its a radio, dear, an antique. It doesnt work any more"

"Because theres too much interference from the solar wind. Oh and if your going to read that book light another oil lamp."

"Why do I need a noil lamp?"

"Because the electricity grid is no longer protected from solar storms,"

Yeah - lovely skies
 

NilesCalder

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intaglio said:
"Its Cherenkov radiation, Jonny, Its made by all those big fast cosmic rays that are no longer deflected by the magnetic field. Now come in dear and hang your rad-suit up"
Of course the survivors of the last polarshift spent a thousand years underground, sheltering from the radiation... :hmph:

"Because theres too much interference from the solar wind. Oh and if your going to read that book light another oil lamp... Because the electricity grid is no longer protected from solar storms,"

urm... The powergrid goes down during a "solar storm" because of the interation of the Solar Wind with the Earth's magnetic field.
No field no problemo... right?

Niles "Naysayer not Doomsayer" Calder
 

marion

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Originally posted by intaglio
[B
Yeah - lovely skies
I was joking,we would all have cataracts so wouldn't be able to see them anyway:cool:
 
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Anonymous

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My compass points South anyway. :confused:

Right, I'm now marginally more jumpy than I was before.
Here's the upshot; are we, or are we not, all going to die?
Frankly, if I live but Radio One gets nuked, what's the problem?
Er...Classic FM would still do CDs, right...?
 

punychicken

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Inverurie Jones said:
My compass points South anyway. :confused:

Right, I'm now marginally more jumpy than I was before.
Here's the upshot; are we, or are we not, all going to die?
Frankly, if I live but Radio One gets nuked, what's the problem?
Er...Classic FM would still do CDs, right...?
radio 1 I can deal with, radio 4... we'd have to come up with a solution fast!
 
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Anonymous

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We can all go to your house and do the Saturday Play ourselves.
Can we do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead?
I'm afraid Book at Bedtime could prove a sticking point...
 

TheOriginalCujo

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Inverurie Jones said:
We can all go to your house and do the Saturday Play ourselves.
Can we do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead?
I'm afraid Book at Bedtime could prove a sticking point...
Well we could take in in turns to read and just shout very loud.

Cujo
 

rynner2

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Years ago (well, decades ago, to be honest) I read an SF story where something had disabled all electricity and radio. Cars wouldn't work without their ignition systems (not sure what happened to diesel engines though), so society had to revert to horse-drawn transport, making their own music, etc, etc.

It sounded like an improvement, but it was just fiction. If you had a heart attack and someone had to jump on a horse to fetch help, and the doctor then had to hitch up his buggy, and then when he did arrive he couldn't use a defibrillator, it might not seem so good.
 

_schnor

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There is a cracking book called Fade out, and basically, an alien craft landed, electrical power stopped, the fade out spread, and we were left in the 1890's :) - could that be the one ryn?

I'd love it if that happened :)
 

intaglio

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rynner said:
Years ago (well, decades ago, to be honest) I read an SF story where something had disabled all electricity and radio. Cars wouldn't work without their ignition systems (not sure what happened to diesel engines though), so society had to revert to horse-drawn transport, making their own music, etc, etc.

It sounded like an improvement, but it was just fiction. If you had a heart attack and someone had to jump on a horse to fetch help, and the doctor then had to hitch up his buggy, and then when he did arrive he couldn't use a defibrillator, it might not seem so good.
The story was called the Waveries, I think, can't remember the author but it might have been Eric Frank Russell.

This post was inspired by my next of kin, Eustace Smartinthears. Willies were not involved in any part of it.
 
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Anonymous

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Inverurie Jones said:
My compass points South anyway. :confused:
Yes, but it's doubtfull that a magnetic reversal would be a smooth or precise transition. There might be several months/years/decades/centuries of the presence of multiple poles, in which case you wouldn't know which one your compass was pointing at.
Imagine the complications of calculating magnetic variation from true north!
People would be dropping like flies trying to navigate across Ben Nevis...:D
 
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Anonymous

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rynner said:
Years ago (well, decades ago, to be honest) I read an SF story where something had disabled all electricity and radio. Cars wouldn't work without their ignition systems (not sure what happened to diesel engines though), so society had to revert to horse-drawn transport, making their own music, etc, etc.

It sounded like an improvement, but it was just fiction. If you had a heart attack and someone had to jump on a horse to fetch help, and the doctor then had to hitch up his buggy, and then when he did arrive he couldn't use a defibrillator, it might not seem so good.

well, it takes me 1 hour to get to work by tube
1 hour by Bus (Variable- depending on school hols)
45 minutes By car
25 Minutes By Bike!!

See- who needs Motorised transport!
BRING IT ON I say!!
:blah:
 
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Anonymous

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Earth's Magnetic Poles Will Switch in 2020?

I have a couple of thought for my Fortean friends, on the Magnetic Pole Swap issue.

__Background__

I had heard dribs and drabs about it, and assumed it was fringe theory at best, then I heard it rationally spoken about on Discovery Channel, which made me think twice about it.

Then I read the current Issue of UFO Magazine, and it's cover story, written by the underpaid, excellent editor Graham Birdsall.

It confirms that there is solid evidence that the magnetic poles swap over every 500,000 years or so, and that evidence that the swap is about to occur is that the field gets considerable weaker.

Apparently, the field strength has dropped by 50% in the last 4,000 years, and 5% in the last 100 years, and that by current calculations, the swap will begin/happen around 2020.

So literally, compasses will point the other way, people will notice, it will be bigger than 9/11 (if you can imagine).

The dreaded effects are massive weather changes, and the smallest organisms being unable to orientate, and so possibly procreate, creating food chain issues.

__My Opinions__

a) If it does occur around 2020.

20 years is very little time to prepare. People will want food and energy stockpiles, as big as possible, and nothing near enough will be done until the 11th hour as usual, as political will requires voters to give something resembling a damn, which they won't, because there may possibly be no warning, so no perceived problem.

The probable effect is that is may get very cold over the period of about 5 to 10 years, and sea levels may rise over the same period.

Because it seems that the weather patterns will migrate to new locations that offer them the path of least resistance once more, but while they migrate, they may not be around for a while. The same may go for the Ice-masses. As they migrate, they will most likely do it in liquid form.

Many questions are unanswered. If geologists have this regular data, then what do they say usually happens?

b) Maybe the date isn't correct

While Mr Birdsall rightly tries to wake a few people up to this concept, and introduces to me the idea that it happens in 2020, what I know of scientists tells me that there is a margin of error of three figures of years.

If I draw a line representing 500,000 years, I can't draw a mark on it representing 20. My pen is too clumsy. It's one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of one percent.

c) My current plans
Keep a close eye on all data on this, and re-assess at the beginning of 2004.

This is something I want to deal with matter-of-factly, like it could really happen.

It's yet ANOTHER damn coincedence with our little planet though, isn't it?

The moon's a perfect distance/diameter for total eclipse, and now this happens at this time.

I questioned myself when I first thought that, and asked why this time is so special. We all know it is.

I defined it as "2020 is about the time there will be universal education to some degree".

It feels like someone's playing games with me.

Graham sticks his neck out at the end of the article and looks at the worst-case scenario, and an impossible requirement to populate a different planet.

I'm not religious. I never have been. I've tried going to church a few times, just to see what it was like, but it didn't really work out. Maybe I'll try again some day, who knows.

But when one looks at the "Ark" story, it's right there in black and white, isn't it? Transporting a cohesive interdependant genome structure to pastures new.

The Hardcastle column in the Mail often says "ain't life grand". I think it applies.


There wasn't a topic header clearly like "Earth's Magnetic Poles Will Switch in 2020?" in the first four pages, so I think this deserves a new thread!

I'd be surprised if this wasn't top of New Science for a small while!
 
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Anonymous

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The atmospheric friction of an asteroid hurtling towards earth is another cause of pole-shift. It could happen anytime then.....

Cool thread though!

'tis a topic I enjoy and will hopefully return with stuff to turn into conversation.
 
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Anonymous

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That 'poleshifts' link looks really cool, but there's only so many 14 page webpages I can read in a day, and that one may have to wait until tommorrow!

But do we think that this issue might be best off if it was somewhat distanced from "the grids that form the consciousness of our reality will collapse".

I love South Park. There's an episode called 'Cherokee Hair Tampons' where Cheech and Chong sell their old toot to people desperate for "New Age stuff".

Then they bring in a kid who's really sick, and it's like "no, man this kid needs, like a doctor!". I can't do the accents in text, but it's hella funny.

This could be real, like, cancer of the arse.

__Asteroid__

Interesting point re an asteroid.

2002NT7, that's the 2Km wide, 28Km/sec continent-buster that will be in our neighbourhood on my 42nd birthday, 1st Feb 2019.

For which we have a margin-of-error of "millions of miles", and yet also know with certainty will "pass us by 32,000 miles".

If I was a magnet about to Repolarise, and a hunk of iron swung close by me at 100,000 Km/H, I might think about choosing that moment.

More damned coincedences?
 
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Anonymous

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Pole shifting caught my eye a few years ago now, reading a book by some Mid 19th Century Russian(?) scientist called Emmanuel Velikovsky.

I'm sure you guys probably know all about him, and this is an egg-sucking Grandma teaching situation going on here, but just in case:

http://www.varchive.org/

If i'm right, it was his book "Earth in upheaval" that specifically mentioned the most about this potentially quite serious and scientifically proven phenomena.
We're going back a bit here, but i'm sure he claimed it happened more frequently than every 500,000 years, more like every 20,000 or so (maybe a precessional thing?)

Tsunamis, earth quakes and all the other usual suspects were touted as being the most likely results of such an occurence. On the other hand someone suggested it could just give the compass manufacturers a much-needed boost in sales.

Anyhoo, we'll know in about 18 years time by your reckoning. Just off to make myself a nice cup of tea in the meantime...
 

NilesCalder

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Archaeologists use magnetic pole orientation while using forensics to date things like fired clay. I think you'll find that the shifts happen more frequently than 500 000 years and are dramatically anti-climatic.

If you're talking about Crust-shifts (like the website linked above) then you're desperately in need of evidence to prove it's possible.

Niles "Could get used to reversing a compass within about a week" Calder
 
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Anonymous

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Yeah, I was under the impression that a pole shift was just that....south became north and north became south.

No damage and no chaos.

The water would run counterclockwise out of your bath and thats about it.

I have a physicist friend who I will now email. We ahve already spoken of this and I am sure he said that it would not be terribly dramatic and that it has happened so frequently already that if it was damaging we would see the evidence in the fossils.
 

river_styx

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That ain't fair. I want my apocalypse godammit.
 

Jerry_B

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I think some people (not those here) confuse polar shift with 'the poles will actually move'. That is, the whole geological mass that forms the poles will themselves move, hence causing great cataclysms, etc..
 
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Anonymous

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True.

There is a big differeence between flipping poles and constant polar shift. At present there are two poles on the Ordnance Survey maps. One is the pole that we rely on and the other is the true magnetic north, which I think is constantly shifting.
 
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Anonymous

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I agree with the anti-scare-mongering tone of the last four posts, but..

My source for 500,000 years is UFO Magazine's assertion that "geologists know from Atlantic-vent hardened lava". Are there other sources?

I could get used to reversing a compass in a day too, and it would make damn interesting conversation for a year or so, but..

Weather patterns would shift position, and they might not be there for a transition period. Things like the bit of the Atlantic near Canada that pushes water down, feeding vast water flows that control temperatures globally.

All of the everyday winds and water-flows that mean that Britain is temperate, while Moscow is bloody cold at the same kind of latitude.

It would be a 'path of least resistance' issue for the weather patterns. They would have to move.

If I feel I could get used to a compass change very easily, maybe bacteria and plankton can too. Maybe animals and plants will be just fine.

But I'm certain the weather would be a serious hassle for at least a hundred years, which would seriously effect the economy, just at the time we would need cash flow.

If we have plenty of energy, from new inventions/sources, it might just be a fun winter-wonderland for a while.

I wouldn't ignore it like you might ignore an asteroid report though.
 
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