Earth's Magnetic Pole Reversals / 'Flips'

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Anonymous

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I far as I'm aware the biggest worry about the magnetic poles shifting is that there could be a transitional phase where the magnetic field is weakened. But as St Clair rightly points out there's no evidence from the fossil record of this having caused any problems in the past. I don't think we have much to worry about.

We still don't know how some animals manage to navigate using the magnetic field so it's pointless to speculate on what affect it may have on them.

But on the other hand, regardless of what happens to the magnetic poles, there's increasing eveidence that the gulf stream could soon switch off plunging NW Europe into a mini ice age :eek!!!!:
 

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Oh , maybe that link was a bit strange , it was late and I liked the look of it . Maybe it was the picture of Einstein . I'm not with it at the moment LOL .
 
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What is the mechanism by which this pole shift is supposed to occur?
 

marion

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Not sure but its supposed to weaken considerably before it shifts .
I wonder if the planet starts to spin in the opposite direction when it occurs ?
Thinks - does this happen to other planets in the solar system ? And the Moon ? Surely must do ! And the Sun :eek!!!!:
 

rynner2

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There was an earlier thread of on pole reversal, so I've now merged the two threads.

To read the earlier posts (which probably answer some of the questions being asked now), go back to page one. :)
 
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Anonymous

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Rynner,
my post belonged in New Science.

This issue is not in 'The News' very much, but rather than opt for 'Conspiracy', I opted for 'New Science'.

I realise you are only trying to be a diligent librarian, but please, a post on each thread linking one to another would have sufficed.

I am glad, though, to know of the existence of this thread.
 

TVgeek

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Prospect said:
But on the other hand, regardless of what happens to the magnetic poles, there's increasing eveidence that the gulf stream could soon switch off plunging NW Europe into a mini ice age
Strangely enough, Art Bell and Whitley Strieber wrote a book
about this very thing -- "The Coming Global Superstorm".

When their book launch took them to national US TV
programs, they were ridiculed and laughed off the air.

Bit by bit, the evidence that this may occur is building.

I'm staying tuned... ;)
TVgeek
 

rynner2

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DOCUMENTARY: Magnetic Flip
Channel: Channel 4
Date: Sunday 11th May 2003
Time: 20:00 to 21:00 (starting this evening)
Duration: 1 hour.
A look at the scientific phenomenon of the Earth's magnetic field, a molten core 2,000 miles beneath the surface which cocoons us from the dangers of space. However, scientists have made the alarming discovery that there is a storm brewing beneath our feet that could destroy our natural magnetic field. This programme examines the causes of this phenomenon and the possible consequences.
(Subtitles)

Excerpt taken from DigiGuide
 
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Anonymous

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The film the Core is about this topic-
magnetic field reversal occurs every 700, 000 years or so, and apparently only involves differential movements within the outer core-
there is no obvious correlation with mass extinctions, earth movements or volcanism in the geological record,
but
such an event must be assioiated with a temporary break or disorganisation in the Earth's magnetic field,

so it is just possible that for an unknown period of time the Earth will be without some of it's normal magnetosphere which protects against the protons etc of the solar wind.
Power lines would overload, the Aurora would mutate into something unpredictable, unshielded electronics overload...

and there might be an increase in radiation induced mutation...
A cause of Punctuated equilibrium, perhaps?
 

brianellwood

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the higher latitudes surely are not protected anyway from solar storms, doesn't the magnetic field actually direct charged particles etc down to the earth's surface towards the poles? Is there a high rate of cancer and allied genetic problems among the Innuit?
Certainly Aurora would reach all latitudes and power surges and blackouts would not be restricted to Canada, Alaska, Siberia, but as for widespread destruction and death....I don't reckon so, the earth's magnetic field is a weak force anyway, the best it can do is move a delicately balanced needle, if you wave a coil around frantically in the air it won't produce enough energy to light an l.e.d. let alone cause cataclysmic weather and violent volcanic action. Northern lights, well that would be nice, I've only ever seen them twice in Cornwall :)
 
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Anonymous

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rynner said:
DOCUMENTARY: Magnetic Flip
Channel: Channel 4
Date: Sunday 11th May 2003
Time: 20:00 to 21:00 (starting this evening)
Duration: 1 hour.
A look at the scientific phenomenon of the Earth's magnetic field, a molten core 2,000 miles beneath the surface which cocoons us from the dangers of space. However, scientists have made the alarming discovery that there is a storm brewing beneath our feet that could destroy our natural magnetic field. This programme examines the causes of this phenomenon and the possible consequences.
(Subtitles)

Excerpt taken from DigiGuide
An interesting documentary. Not least because far from doom-mongering as I'd expected, it actually played down the effects of a magnetic reversals:- basically there'd be a small increase in cancer cases and we'd all get to see pretty aurora every night! I'm looking forward to it!
 

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Prospect said:
An interesting documentary...
I agree. It would have been interesting too know what the fossil record shows at the time of a pole reversal. If the consequence is only a lot of extra cancer deaths then nothing may show up. It may also show an increased diversity of species as increased radiation encourages mutation and speed up evolution.
 

rynner2

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I was surprised there was no mention of the other major piece of evidence for magnetic reversals - the bands of normal and reversed magnetism on the bed of the Atlantic, parallel to the mid-Atlantic ridge. (The sea floor is created at the ridge, and as new floor is made the Atlantic gets wider.)
 
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Anonymous

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Seems I'm a bit behind on this as I've just seen a doc on it for the first time. Got scared about half way through, but thankfully it's (a) an SEP and (b) not as bad as one would think (oceans boiling off like on Mars) with (c) pretty Auroras every night.

Web link has further details including a simulation of the pole reversal, timeline of previous reversals .etc.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/magnetic/
 

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Great link DD, some of the pictures in their Gallery of Auroras are stunning.
 
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Anonymous

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As if polar reversal wasn't scarry enough, I saw a special on the moon the other day. They left a mirror on the moon during the moon landings which they use a laser to measure its distance. The moon has been increasing its orbit by 3 cm / year. They estimated in 1 million years the moon will pull far enough away from the earth to cause major changes here on earth. The tides will stop and much of the coasts will be flooded and the earth might roll over sideways making antartica once more a tropical continent.

Unless of course the increase in orbit is a cylical thing and corrects itself, after all we have only been measuring for 40 years or so.

Hopefully by then we won't have to worry because we will have installed giant ion feed RamJet boosters on the dark side of the moon.
Calling Martin Landou !!!
 

rynner2

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The moon has been moving away from the Earth (due to tidal interactions) for millions of years, ever since it first formed. It will continue to do so, and the Earth's rotation will slow, until the month and the day are the same length (about 40 of our present days, I think).

But there will still be the tides caused by the Sun.
 
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Anonymous

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I watched that Tuesday night. Wow. Very interesting, but the thing I picked up was that the narrator would say something like "What would happen to human life if the Earth's mangetic field suddenly disappeared?" Then the next segment was all about how the last field reversal was an "event" that took over 3,000 years to happen, and that there's no evidence either way that life on Earth was affected, because they can only verify the reversal from samples of magnetized lava flows. Okay scratch that question. Over and over the segments were introduced with some sort of grandiose and frightening statement or question and then the scientist would basically say "we don't know" or "well, all we have are theories" or "when we say we are due for a reversal remember these are geological time frames, so 'due' means a 30,000 year span"

All of which means some very good theories are out there and the reality is a finger in the wind, guesstimating.
 

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The data seems very confused - the scientific reports I read thanks to some earlier links, stated that pole reversal was every 100,000 years or so, with a changover period of up to 5,000 years, but that we haven't had one for over 750,000 years. Well, maybe they've stopped, which could be why we haven't had one for so long.

Perhaps the reversals where the after effects of the meteor crash which wiped out the Dinos, a chaotic electromagnetic effect which slowly settled down to a see-saw effect which eventually stopped. Just because the magnetic field resonates doesn't mean it has to flip, unless there's a trigger mechanism such as asteroids, or the shrinking of large Ice Caps.

Talking of which, aren't we due for an Ice Age around now too?
 
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Anonymous

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RE: Dimensional Shift 8/28

Take a look at this thread,it's on Notes and Queries(there is a strong link)
Greetings
Bill;)

DIMENSIONAL SHIFT 8/28
 

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another pole reversal story

Over the last century and a half, since monitoring began, scientists have measured a 10% decline in the dipole.

At the current rate of decline it would take 1,500 to 2,000 years to disappear.

A particular weakness in the field has been observed off the coast of Brazil in the so-called Southern Atlantic Anomaly. Here, eccentricities in the Earth's core have caused a "dip" in the field, leaving it 30% weaker than elsewhere.

The extra dose of radiation creates electronic glitches in satellites and spacecraft that fly through it. Even the Hubble telescope has been affected.
 

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http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994865
Quick flip of Earth's magnetic field revealed
18:00 07 April 04

NewScientist.com news service

The Earth's magnetic field takes an average of only 7000 years to reverse its polarity, but the switch happens much more quickly near the equator, according to the most comprehensive study yet of the last four reversals.

"It's important to get an idea of how fast or slow this process is because it ends up controlling our idea of how the field is generated in the first place," says study author Bradford Clement, an earth scientist at Florida International University in Miami, US.

Previous studies have reported a bewildering range of transition times, from a few thousand to nearly 30,000 years. So Clement scoured the published data on the most recent reversals to set the record straight.

He used data from 30 cores drilled from the beds of lakes or seas, whose minerals clearly recorded the magnetic field as sediments in the water slowly solidified into rock. The cores were taken from latitudes ranging from 46 degrees south to 60 degrees north and from a wide range of longitudes.

Clement found that the duration of the transitions varied with latitude, from 2000 years near the equator to 11,000 years nearer the poles. This result concurs with a much smaller study he conducted 20 years ago using just 10 cores.

"Now the data set looks more robust overall, and the variation with latitude helps explain why people were reporting different durations," Clement told New Scientist.

Random timing

Studies of ocean sediments and lava flows show the Earth has undergone several hundred field reversals, with the most recent confirmed flip occurring about 780,000 years ago. But their timing appears random and physicists do not understand what causes them.

The Earth's magnetic field is generated by the flow of liquid iron, an electrical conductor, in the Earth's outer core, between 3000 and 5000 kilometres beneath the surface. It is therefore likely that some change in the flow causes the reversals.

But the many models put forward to explain the phenomenon are "a long way from being realistic", says Clement. "The theory gets very complicated very quickly, and there are so many models it's hard to figure out what's what."

Ronald Merrill, a geophysicist at the University of Washington, in Seattle, US, agrees: "We can't do the theory right, so we're trying to find more data to find out the character of the reversals."


Shrinking magnet


Merrill says better knowledge of the reversals will help constrain the many models. And it may even shed light on some evidence published in 2002 suggesting that the Earth is now in the first stages of a polarity flip.

In the simplest models of reversals, the Earth's magnetic field behaves like a bar magnet that points roughly along the planet's axis of rotation. It shrinks in strength over time, growing up again in the opposite direction.

Clement's result "tells us the magnetic field is becoming more complex during a reversal," says Merrill. This could occur if secondary components of the magnetic field - perhaps caused by eddies of molten iron at shallower depths - remain constant as the primary field - caused by iron flowing deep in the outer core - shrinks to nothing.

Clement, however, believes both the primary and secondary components of the field change together.

Journal reference: Nature (vol 428, p 637)

Maggie McKee
 

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Solar wind to shield Earth during pole flip

09:30 15 May 04


Hollywood now has one less disaster scenario to worry about. The Earth, it seems, will be safe when its magnetic field falters during the next reversal of its magnetic poles.

A new model of the way the Earth interacts with the solar wind indicates that a replacement field will form in the upper atmosphere during the switch.

Scientists had previously thought that the planet would be left without a protective shield to stop lethal radiation from space reaching the surface.

The strength of the Earth's magnetic field is known to drop during "magnetic reversals", when the north and south poles swap places. Records of the field direction, frozen into sediments laid down on the seabed, show that the magnetic field has reversed hundreds of times in the past 400 million years.

In normal circumstances, the magnetic field protects the Earth's surface from dangerous high-energy particles, including particles from the sun and cosmic rays from deep space.

But as the field switches polarity, it can drop to below 10 per cent of its normal strength for thousands of years. Such a weakened field would allow lethal radiation to reach the Earth's surface, with potentially disastrous consequences for the atmosphere, the climate and particularly for life.


Opportune moment


In a paper to be published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, Guido Birk and Harald Lesch of the University of Munich, Germany, and Christian Konz of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching report an investigation of exactly what happens when the field is drastically reduced or vanishes altogether.

Their simulations show that the solar wind - the million-kilometre-an-hour stream of hydrogen and helium nuclei from the sun - wraps itself around the Earth in a way that induces a magnetic field in the ionosphere as strong as the original field.

"We were quite surprised about its effectiveness," Lesch says.

The news comes at an opportune moment. The Earth's magnetic field is showing worrying signs that it is about to reverse again. Not only has the magnetic north pole wandered by 1100 kilometres in the past 200 years, but its strength is dropping at a rate of 5 per cent a century.

"This is the fastest decrease since the last reversal 730,000 years ago," Lesch says.
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994985
 

sunsplash1

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Nice.

There's an interplay between magnetic fields (the Earths and the Suns), that hasn't been accounted for in the study mentioned.
:)
 

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Will Compasses Point South?


Dr. Gary A. Glatzmaier
This computer simulation shows the Earth's interior as its magnetic field reverses, perhaps because of changes in the flow of molten iron in the core.


By WILLIAM J. BROAD

Published: July 13, 2004



he collapse of the Earth's magnetic field, which both guards the planet and guides many of its creatures, appears to have started in earnest about 150 years ago. The field's strength has waned 10 to 15 percent, and the deterioration has accelerated of late, increasing debate over whether it portends a reversal of the lines of magnetic force that normally envelop the Earth.

During a reversal, the main field weakens, almost vanishes, then reappears with opposite polarity. Afterward, compass needles that normally point north would point south, and during the thousands of years of transition, much in the heavens and Earth would go askew.

A reversal could knock out power grids, hurt astronauts and satellites, widen atmospheric ozone holes, send polar auroras flashing to the equator and confuse birds, fish and migratory animals that rely on the steadiness of the magnetic field as a navigation aid. But experts said the repercussions would fall short of catastrophic, despite a few proclamations of doom and sketchy evidence of past links between field reversals and species extinctions.

Although a total flip may be hundreds or thousands of years away, the rapid decline in magnetic strength is already damaging satellites.

Last month, the European Space Agency approved the world's largest effort at tracking the field's shifts. A trio of new satellites, called Swarm, are to monitor the collapsing field with far greater precision than before and help scientists forecast its prospective state.

"We want to get some idea of how this would evolve in the near future, just like people trying to predict the weather," said Dr. Gauthier Hulot, a French geophysicist working on the satellite plan. "I'm personally quite convinced we should be able to work out the first predictions by the end of the mission."

The discipline is one of a number - like high-energy physics and aspects of space science - where Europeans have recently come from behind to seize the initiative, dismaying some American experts.

No matter what the new findings, the public has no reason to panic, scientists say. Even if a flip is imminent, it might take 2,000 years to mature. The last one took place 780,000 years ago, when Homo erectus was still learning how to make stone tools.

Some experts suggest a reversal is overdue. "The fact that it's dropping so rapidly gives you pause," said Dr. John A. Tarduno, a professor of geophysics at the University of Rochester. "It looks like things we see in computer models of a reversal."

In an interview, Dr. Tarduno put the odds of an impending flip at more likely than not, adding that some of his colleagues were placing informal bets on the possibility but realized they would probably be long gone by the time the picture clarified.

Deep inside the Earth, the magnetic field arises as the fluid core oozes with hot currents of molten iron and this mechanical energy gets converted into electromagnetism. It is known as the geodynamo. In a car's generator, the same principle turns mechanical energy into electricity.

No one knows precisely why the field periodically reverses, but scientists say the responsibility probably lies with changes in the turbulent flows of molten iron, which they envision as similar to the churning gases that make up the clouds of Jupiter.

In theory, a reversal could have major effects because over the ages many aspects of nature and society have come to rely on the field's steadiness.

When baby loggerhead turtles embark on an 8,000-mile trek around the Atlantic, they use invisible magnetic clues to check their bearings. So do salmon and whales, honeybees and homing pigeons, frogs and Zambian mole rats, scientists have found.

On a planetary scale, the magnetic field helps shield the Earth from solar winds and storms of deadly particles. Its so-called magnetosphere extends out 37,000 miles from Earth's sunlit side and much farther behind the planet, forming a cometlike tail.

Among other things, the field's collapse, scientists say, could let in bursts of radiation, causing a variety of disruptions.

------------------
Dr. Charles H. Jackman, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has worked with European colleagues on a computer model that mimics the repercussions. A weak field, they reported in December, could let solar storms pummel the atmosphere with enough radiation to destroy significant amounts of the ozone that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet light.

Ultraviolet radiation, the short, invisible rays from the sun, can harm some life forms, depress crop yields and raise cancer rates, causing skin cancer and cataracts in humans. Dr. Jackman said that the ozone damage from any one solar storm could heal naturally in two to three years but that the protective layer would stay vulnerable to new bursts of radiation as long as the Earth's magnetic field remained weak.

"It would be significant" in terms of planetary repercussions, he said in an interview, "but not catastrophic." High levels of ultraviolet radiation would spread down from polar regions as far south as Florida.

Like many of the Earth's invisible rhythms, the field reversals are typically slow, taking anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 years to complete.

Strong evidence of their reality first emerged in the 1950's and 1960's when scientists towing magnetic sensors behind ships found that the rocky seabed exhibited odd stripes of magnetization.

It turned out that continuous flows of seabed lava became alternately magnetized over the ages as the polarities of the Earth's field switched one way, then the other. The seabed acted like a huge tape recorder, and the same proved true of the layered deposits of old volcanoes on land.

How did the rocky memories form? Molten lava proved to hold tiny mineral grains that acted like innumerable compasses, or miniature magnets, freely aligning themselves with the contemporary field. But as the lava cooled, the tiny compasses froze in place, immobile even if the field shifted. Experts called it paleomagnetism and found that the tiny compasses were often made of magnetite, a naturally magnetic mineral.

Paleomagnetic studies showed that the Earth's field reversed every half million years or so, but in a fairly random way and with early patterns more chaotic. During the age of dinosaurs, for instance, no flips occurred for roughly 35 million years.

As scientists began to understand the importance of reversals in the planet's history, they examined the fossil record for evidence of damage to life. In 1971, Dr. James D. Hays of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University noted a strong correlation between recent flips and species extinctions of tiny marine creatures known as radiolarians. "The evidence," he wrote in The Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, "is strongly suggestive that magnetic reversals either directly or indirectly exert a selective force."

But no consensus ever formed on how the flips might have doomed some creatures and spared others, and some experts faulted the correlations as statistically insignificant.

Meanwhile, starting in the late 1970's, scientists began to find wide evidence that many animals relied on the Earth's magnetic field for navigation. Dr. Joseph L. Kirschvink of the California Institute of Technology discovered such reliance in bees, pigeons, bacteria, salmon, whales and newts, among other animals. The magnetic sense, he found, usually relies on tiny crystals of magnetite - the same mineral that gets immobilized in cooling lava.

Investigators looking into the origin of the reversals got new clues in 1995 when scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of California at Los Angeles succeeded in making the first computer simulation of the geodynamo in action, including field reversals.

Dr. Gary A. Glatzmaier, who was one of the Los Alamos scientists, said it showed that the Earth's solid inner core resisted the flipping because the field there could not change as rapidly as it did in the fluid outer core. "The reversal starts with a small region that gets larger," he said in an interview. "Most of the time they die away, but other times they continue to grow." To date, the simulations of millions of years have produced more than a dozen flips.

----------
The current collapse drew wide scientific attention on April 11, 2002, when Nature, the British journal, published a major paper that detailed its growing weakness. Dr. Hulot and colleagues at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, where he works, as well as the Danish Space Research Institute, called the large drop remarkable.

They found it by comparing readings made in 1979 and 1980 by the American Magsat satellite with measurements by the Danish Oersted satellite, launched in 1999 and still operating. In particular, Dr. Hulot and his team discovered a north polar region and a spot below South Africa where the magnetism is growing extremely weak.

The finding drew wide attention because the magnetic anomalies seemed consistent with what the computer simulations identified as the possible beginnings of a flip.

"We postulate," Dr. Hulot and his co-authors wrote, that the new evidence reflects how "the geodynamo operates before reversing."

In an interview, he said that the field's southern spot was 30 percent weaker than elsewhere and that some satellites passing over it had already suffered electronic malfunctions when highly charged particles from the sun were able to penetrate the weakened magnetic shield.

In March 2003, "The Core," a Hollywood film, gave a wildly exaggerated portrayal of what would happen if the field vanished. People with pacemakers fall dead. Pigeons fly into people and windows. And the planet, a scientist warns, will fry in a year.

Dr. Tarduno said that practical effects on things like satellites and the ozone layer would be the same no matter whether the field reversed or simply weakened and bounced back. A major collapse of the Earth's magnetic shield, he added, could let speeding particles penetrate deeper into the atmosphere to widely knock out power grids, as solar storms do occasionally.

The consensus among biologists seems to be that the reversals are slow enough, and the Earth's creatures resilient enough, that most would learn to adapt. They note the lack of correlations in the fossil record between flips and mass extinctions.

Dr. Kenneth J. Lohmann, a biologist at the University of North Carolina who has pioneered magnetic navigation studies in loggerhead turtles, said if the field became weak enough "there would be problems for the turtles." His research suggests they use it not only for a general sense of direction but as a precise map of their location.

To better understand the current collapse, the European Space Agency plans to launch three satellites in 2009. The spacecraft, flying in polar orbits a few hundred miles up, are to map its intricacies until perhaps 2015.

Dr. Hulot said scientists would combine the satellite data with computer simulations to make not only distant forecasts but possible warnings of current hazards. Among the possible solutions would be to increase satellite shielding.

"It will be interesting to see what's going to happen in that South Atlantic anomaly," he said. "If you want to keep satellites flying, you want to know if the situation is going to deteriorate."
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/13/science/13magn.html
 
A

Anonymous

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Well.

Because of the polar shift(north pole going down and the south pole coming up)we are getting changes in the weather pattens all over the planet ,this has nothing to do with the ozone problem that may or may not exist.
Doe's Methane add to global warming or is it only fossile fules?.
Billl
 

austen27

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Re: Well.

Bill said:
Doe's Methane add to global warming or is it only fossile fules?.
Billl
I believe it does.

http://royal.okanagan.bc.ca/mpidwirn/atmosphereandclimate/greenhouse.html#d
A number of gases are involved in the greenhouse effect (see Table below). These gases include: carbon dioxide (CO2); methane (CH4); nitrous oxide (N2O); chlorofluorocarbons (CFxClx); and tropospheric ozone (03). Of these gases, the single most important gas is carbon dioxide which accounts for about 55 % of the change in the intensity of the Earth's greenhouse effect. The contributions of the other gases are 25 % for chlorofluorocarbons, 15 % for methane, and 5 % for nitrous oxide. Ozone's contribution to the enhancement of greenhouse effect is still yet to be quantified.
 

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Shaolin_monkey said:
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?
better late than never

I saw something on either Discovery or Nat Geo one night about genes and how the gene pool suddenly shrank X many years ago and that the time frame co-insided with the Dark Ages which were not so called because they hadn't invented lightbulbs, but because some cataclysmic event had taken place that left the [habited] Earth shrouded in heavy cloud - such as a massive volcanic eruption, or a meteor hit.
 
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