What are the consequences of pole reversals on Earth

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I was told today by my physics professor that the Earth undergoes magnetic pole reversals, some of the evidence being molten rocks with magnetic properties on earth orientating themselves towards a different north pole which points towards the north pole being different in the past. He said that the current north pole is actually somewhere in Ontario Canada and within the next year will be somewhere in Siberia. While this is happening of course the south pole is moving up. I was told that this can happen without serious consequence as far as we know. Is that true? What would happen if they became completely reversed and north became south and vice versa? Would our magnetic field and protection from the sun be temporarily suspended or anything else?
 

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth's_magnetic_field
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Magnetic_Pole

"If it maintained its present speed and direction it would reach Siberia in about 50 years, but it is expected to veer from its present course and slow its rate of motion.[citation needed]"

"This general movement is in addition to a daily or diurnal variation in which the North Magnetic Pole describes a rough ellipse, with a maximum deviation of 80 km from its mean position.[10] This effect is due to disturbances of the geomagnetic field by charged particles from the Sun."

Perhaps these two effects were confused in your lecture...
 
  • #3
Chronos
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Oceanographic surveys in the 1950's revealed zebra-like magnetic stripes on the ocean floor. A decade later scientistis deduced they were the product of pole reversal of the earths magnetic field. These events are apparently innocuous. There is no credible evidence of mass extinctions associated with pole reversal - e.g. http://www.angelicscorn.co.uk/magnetic-pole-reversal.htm [Broken].
 
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Drakkith
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I was told today by my physics professor that the Earth undergoes magnetic pole reversals, some of the evidence being molten rocks with magnetic properties on earth orientating themselves towards a different north pole which points towards the north pole being different in the past. He said that the current north pole is actually somewhere in Ontario Canada and within the next year will be somewhere in Siberia. While this is happening of course the south pole is moving up. I was told that this can happen without serious consequence as far as we know. Is that true? What would happen if they became completely reversed and north became south and vice versa? Would our magnetic field and protection from the sun be temporarily suspended or anything else?
The only way that our protection would be lessened would be if the strength of the magnetic field dropped. If the pole reverses without this then I don't believe that our protection will diminish much if at all.
 
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DaveC426913
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Yes, the problem is not reversal, the problem is diminishment. Prior to a reversal, the Earth's magnetic field tends to drop off. The magnetosphere is what protects us from the solar wind, "...without which life as we know it would not survive". (Wiki)
 
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Drakkith
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Yes, the problem is not reversal, the problem is diminishment. Prior to a reversal, the Earth's magnetic field tends to drop off. The magnetosphere is what protects us from the solar wind, "...without which life as we know it would not survive". (Wiki)
Great scott! :bugeye:

Well, hopefully nothing too drastic happens anytime soon. (Or at all)
 
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Yes, the problem is not reversal, the problem is diminishment. Prior to a reversal, the Earth's magnetic field tends to drop off. The magnetosphere is what protects us from the solar wind, "...without which life as we know it would not survive".
"A magnetosphere is the region surrounding a planet where the planet's magnetic field dominates. Because the ions in the solar plasma are charged, they interact with these magnetic fields, and solar wind particles are swept around planetary magnetospheres. Life on Earth has developed under the protection of this magnetosphere." from :

http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/magnet.html
 
  • #9
Drakkith
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"A magnetosphere is the region surrounding a planet where the planet's magnetic field dominates. Because the ions in the solar plasma are charged, they interact with these magnetic fields, and solar wind particles are swept around planetary magnetospheres. Life on Earth has developed under the protection of this magnetosphere." from :

http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/magnet.html
Umm, isn't that what he said? Or are you just providing more info?
 
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Yes, the problem is not reversal, the problem is diminishment. Prior to a reversal, the Earth's magnetic field tends to drop off. The magnetosphere is what protects us from the solar wind, "...without which life as we know it would not survive". (Wiki)
But previous pole reversals have not resulted in any mass extinctions . There is still debate whether the magnetic field protects us from radiation.
 

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