The European Space Agency has revealed that the Earth’s Magnetic field is gradually weakening. Everyone has some questions in their mind like – Why is it so? Why that even matter? What will be the effect of this? To answer these questions, first of all, we need to understand the earth’s magnetic field.
Understanding the earth’s magnetic field
“Earth’s magnetic field (or geomagnetic field) is the magnetic field that extends from the inner core to the outer space.” The metallic and liquid outer core is responsible for the generation of the geomagnetic field by a natural process called geodynamo.
The geodynamo causes the conventional current by the heat of the interacting metals and liquid core. This current generates the electric field, and in turn, change in this electric field due to the earth’s rotation produces the magnetic field, which is the principle of electromagnetic induction.
Why is it important?
The geomagnetic field protects us from the harmful cosmic radiations and the charged particles released from the sun by shielding the earth, which means it protects us from the solar wind.
Also, the current technology and space science are dependent on the earth’s magnetic field. The shielding of the field protects the satellites and space probes from the solar wind. It also plays a role in the navigations systems.
The weakening of the Magnetic Field
Coming back to the point of discussion, the scientists from the Swarm Data, Innovation, and Science Cluster (DISC) observed that the earth’s magnetic field is weakening in the area stretching from Africa to South America. This region is known as South Atlantic Anomaly. According to the data collected, the magnetic field has lost 9% of its strength in the past 200 years.
Why is this happening? What is the exact reason for this? – It is also challenging for scientists to find out “why?” The researchers are studying the changing magnetic field, and they put forward some arguments, which may help us to get a fair idea about it.
A team of Leeds University explained the drift of the North Pole towards Siberia and away from Canada. They claimed that this shift changed the flow of the molten material in the core of the earth, which eventually altered the strength of the negative magnetic flux. They also explained this drift by the competition of two magnetic lobes beneath the Canadian Arctic and Siberian.
European Space Agency (ESA) said that the possible reason for such weakening could be the reversal of the magnetic poles, which are the North and South Pole. But this claim was denied by a study published in the research journal. They said that such reversal takes tens-thousands of years to occur. So, it is not possible now.
Thus, the arguments and studies to find the reason behind such weakening is still a center of discussion among scientists. But the scientists have not concluded this ongoing discussion. Therefore, there is still left to discover about the earth.
How will this weakening of the magnetic field affect us?
The magnetic shield plays a vital role in keeping unwanted radiation away as well as in determining the direction of the magnetic poles. When the strength gets reduced, it can lead to some significant problems.
- The reversal or shift of the poles could affect the satellite and telecommunication systems all over the world. Some of the internet services and signals may get disrupted that could impact the mapping and navigation systems of mobile phones.
- The charged particles of the sun can also penetrate the altitude of the satellites of low orbits. The astronauts in the International Space Station could get affected by this. They may get technical glitches in the space station. Also, direct exposure to these particles could be harmful to them.
- The migratory birds and animals travel to different places with the help of the magnetic field. The earth’s magnetic field helps them to find direction to reach their homes. Therefore, the weakening could affect their migratory movement.
- Also, it can affect the shielding against solar radiation and wind. The interaction between the solar wind and the earth’s atmosphere could break down the ozone layer, which could increase the chances of skin cancer.
It will not affect our lives directly like global warming, or climate change. However, it will have an impact on the way we access technology.