I What are the potential effects on electricity due to Earth's magnetic field reversal?

Summary
Potential effect on electricity due to reversal of planetary magnetic field.
What is/are the potential or theoretical effect on electricity due to reversal of planetary magnetic field? Would circuitry continue to function or would knowledge and understanding need re-evaluating as a result of a reversal of our magnetic field on planet Earth?

Note: this is not a homework question.

Please, point me in the direction of any science journal articles or studies that address this question?
 

phinds

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reversal of a planet's magnetic field is something that happens over millennia --- WAY too slow to have any effect on electronics (which I assume you meant, rather than electricity, the laws of which would be unchanged with a change in magnetic field).

As 256bits said, compasses would be affected and birds would have to evolve along w/ the change in order to migrate on the right path.
 
WAY too slow to have any effect on electronics

Even if it happened over night, why should if affect electronics (apart from, as mentioned, devices that are constructed to use the magnetic field to tell directions)? I would think things like my laptop shouldn’t care since I can use them in an arbitrary direction relative to the earth’s magnetic field anyway.
 

phinds

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Even if it happened over night, why should if affect electronics (apart from, as mentioned, devices that are constructed to use the magnetic field to tell directions)? I would think things like my laptop shouldn’t care since I can use them in an arbitrary direction relative to the earth’s magnetic field anyway.
I was thinking of a basically instantaneous flip. Don't know that that is even physically possible (I doubt it is) but it WOULD have an impact on some electronics, I think. Possibly not but only because the Earth's magnetic field is so relatively weak.
 
Don't know that that is even physically possible (I doubt it is) but it WOULD have an impact on some electronics, I think.
Well, what is possible is to turn around my smartphone very quickly, which evidently has no effect. So I would think it should not affect at least our every day electronics.

Possibly not but only because the Earth's magnetic field is so relatively weak.
Maybe, but if we lived in a world with such a very strong magnetic field we would we would I assume not have the electronic devices we are used to anyway.
 

phinds

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Well, what is possible is to turn around my smartphone very quickly, which evidently has no effect. So I would think it should not affect at least our every day electronics.
Good point.
 
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Provided the swirling ground-currents during transition don't over-load long power-lines and their transformers etc like a geomagnetic storm, we should be okay. IIRC, migrating birds, turtles etc rely on multiple navigation cues, so enough should get through. Strays may re-populate lost breeding locations...
 

stefan r

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A magneto uses a rotating magnetic field to generate current in a conductor. Some lawn mowers and chainsaws still use them.
Magnetic flux causes current to move when the flux passes through a conductor. Here is a video of someone playing with magnets and conductors. At 2:20 the he shows what happens when you pass a magnetic field through a connected copper coil. As Earth's magnetic field passes through the electrical grid a few electrons will move in response.
 

DaveC426913

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...birds would have to evolve along w/ the change in order to migrate on the right path.
< digression >
I'm not sure any evolving would be necessary.
I think birds learn their migratory routes from elders and use the magnetic field to guide them. I don't think it's a hard-wired "you must go compass South" thing; I think it's a "this is what the field felt like when I migrated before so this is what I should do now." Since the magnetic field changes much slower than a bird's lifetime, any given bird would know nothing of any absolute compass heading, just repeat what they've learned.

I guess that would be easily falsified by seeing if birds could still migrate without having learned it and without following others in an existing flock. (Not sure how that would be testable.)
< /digression >
 

DaveC426913

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I was thinking of a basically instantaneous flip. Don't know that that is even physically possible (I doubt it is)
It is trivial.

What electronic devices you could put in your car would stop working (due to magnetic shift alone) when you did a U-turn?
 

DaveC426913

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A magneto uses a rotating magnetic field to generate current in a conductor. Some lawn mowers and chainsaws still use them.
Magnetic flux causes current to move when the flux passes through a conductor. Here is a video of someone playing with magnets and conductors. At 2:20 the he shows what happens when you pass a magnetic field through a connected copper coil. As Earth's magnetic field passes through the electrical grid a few electrons will move in response.
If I put a lawnmower and chainsaw in the trunk of my car, I'm pretty sure a few turns on the trip home would not cause them to stop functioning.
 

DaveC426913

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Frankly, I think the opening question and responses miss the point.

The problem with magnetic reversal is not the reversal itself, it is the cessation of the field during the flip that will be disastrous. Flips seem to be preceded by a plummet in the strength of the field before it reverses.

That field is what deflects charged particles from the sun. When it goes away we will be bombarded by ionized particles - and that could be a disaster if not mitigated.
 

CPW

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For the next magnetic field reversal on Earth, do we have an esimate of how weak the main field strength will be during the flip?

I'm trying to think what society could do to mitigate the effect of more ground level radiation (ionizing radiation) at the lower latitudes. Are there lessons we can take from our space program to assist us in planning such a radiation protection program on a large scale?

Has the NCRP published any recommendations for such preparations?
 

DaveC426913

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It happens so slowly that it will not effect anything electronic or affect any migrating birds. Ground level radiation will increase as will cancer rates but by huge amounts. The field is still active while it is reversing, it does not turn off while moving and back on again when it reaches it's final destination.
 

Klystron

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It happens so slowly that it will not effect anything electronic or affect any migrating birds. Ground level radiation will increase as will cancer rates but by huge amounts. The field is still active while it is reversing, it does not turn off while moving and back on again when it reaches it's final destination.
I think you left out a negative? "but not by huge amounts. (over a human lifetime)"
 

sophiecentaur

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I'm not sure any evolving would be necessary.
Me neither. There have been several such reversals within the timescale of the life of species and they are still here. The would be a blip and the recovery may not take them to the same migration cycles, in detail, as before the flip but robustness to that sort of change would be one of the long term evolutionary features.
 

phinds

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Me neither. There have been several such reversals within the timescale of the life of species and they are still here. The would be a blip and the recovery may not take them to the same migration cycles, in detail, as before the flip but robustness to that sort of change would be one of the long term evolutionary features.
Good points.
 

stefan r

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If I put a lawnmower and chainsaw in the trunk of my car, I'm pretty sure a few turns on the trip home would not cause them to stop functioning.
Sure. But that does not help put a good number on the effects of the pole switch. A car alternator runs well above 12 volts. A milivolt change would not change the current enough to disrupt a car's engine. If there is a millivolt change over 1 meter distance what happens over a 1000 km power grid? I understand you are saying "too small to be noticeable" but I do not know the equations to use for a ballpark estimate of "how small".

The car doing a U-turn does not force a magnetic flux through a conductor. Consider this video. There is clearly some movement of electricity as the magnet passes through the connected coil. Why would the power grid not have current while Earth's magnetic flux passes through? My impression is that Iowa, Florida, and Maine are in a connected current carrying loop.
 
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I can't see this affecting the power grid any more than the occasional solar flares coming in our direction. Electric grids usually have multiple paths to send electricity around the country and the routes are usually controlled to go down prefered paths, this is useful for redirecting the flow for example to perform maintenance on any one section. When we have an incoming flare the grid opens all the paths to connect the entire grid silumtaneously to disipate the induced electricity accross the entire grid and reduce any effects.
 

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