ESA/ATG medialab

Time for a new compass? Earth’s magnetic field may be slowly flipping

Earth’s magnetic field is weakening faster than scientists previously predicted, raising speculation that the planet’s poles are in the process of flipping, Motherboard reports. New data from the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites show that Earth’s magnetic field is losing 5% of its strength annually, a rate roughly 10 times faster than previously predicted. Scientists are not sure what is causing the rapid decrease, but this pattern is thought to occur whenever Earth’s magnetic poles are about to flip, an event that happens about every 100,000 years. The cause of these flips is debated, but some scientists think that they happen when the flow of Earth’s molten metallic outer core changes. As scary as it sounds, they say a magnetic pole flip should cause no harmful effects beyond forcing people to relabel their compasses.


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