New research suggests that the earth’s magnetic pole flip could be catastrophic
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The disaster movie shows us what Hollywood thinks might happen if the earth’s magnetic poles suddenly flip, but the reality is likely to be very different. We cannot be sure how our daily life will be affected if the magnetic poles of our planet suddenly become weird, but scientists are constantly looking for evidence of past magnetic pole movements in order to better understand what we should expect.
A new study published in the journal Science provides us with some useful information, thanks to an extremely old tree. When the last magnetic pole flip occurred about 42,000 years ago, the tree was still growing, and it hinted at dramatic and possibly catastrophic changes in the atmosphere and the surface of our planet.
According to NPR reports, scientists can use a long-dead but well-preserved tree to better understand the vast history of the earth. By studying the tree rings of this tree, scientists have obtained a detailed record of about 1700 years. The tree happened to be alive during the most recent magnetic pole flip, and analysis of the tree’s rings showed that it was a challenging period for any creature living on earth.
The research team specifically looked for a carbon signal in tree rings. The type of carbon scientists are looking for is produced when cosmic rays can hit the Earth’s atmosphere. When the earth’s magnetic field is strong, as it is today, the amount of carbon produced by this interaction is relatively small, but when the magnetic field weakens and allows more cosmic rays to pass through, the amount of carbon will surge.
Researchers were able to find this special type of carbon abundantly in the tree rings. These carbons are produced during the polar reversal. This indicates that this event is directly related to the dramatic changes in the strength of the earth’s magnetic field.
“This record reveals a substantial increase in the carbon-14 content in the atmosphere, reaching a climax during the weakening of the magnetic field before the polarity switch,” the scientist explained. “The author modeled the consequences of this event and concluded that the minimum value of the geomagnetic field caused a substantial change in atmospheric ozone concentration and promoted the simultaneous transformation of global climate and environment.”
Researchers believe that due to the weakening of the magnetic field and the destruction of the ozone layer, this event will bathe the earth in ultraviolet radiation, and it will follow. It may even trigger the extinction of many species.