Earth's magnetic poles can flip much faster than we think

A new study has found that contrary to what scientists once believed, the earth's magnetic field can do a full switch pretty damn quickly.

    2018/08/28

NSFW    TAIWAN / CHINA — New research has found evidence that Earth's magnetic poles have shifted rapidly once before, and could lead to a global catastrophe should it happen again.

Forbes reports that the earth is surrounded by a magnetic field that shields the planet's surface from charged particles constantly being emitted by the sun.

This field can switch directions — a phenomenon known as geomagnetic reversal. It is believed to unfold slowly over thousands of years, with the last full reversal occurring 780,000 years ago

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, research teams from Taiwan and China analyzed a Sanxing Cave stalagmite that grew over a 16,000 year period. Variations in the rock's magnetic minerals revealed a huge polarity shift 98,000 years ago that occurred in just 144 years.

Previous studies have suggested that the magnetic field could weaken by about 90% during a reversal, which will greatly impact power grids and modern electronics.

Unfortunately, pole shifts can't be predicted, and we can only hope it happens far enough in the future to when humanity has come up with certain technologies to avoid significant damage.
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