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What are the consequences of pole reversals on Earth?


Juryoku
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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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No, it's not in Ontario, which is relatively far to the south, at least it hasn't been there in the last couple of centuries or so. It's about 2,200 miles north of Ontario. It may be headed slowly in the direction of Siberia, but don't expect it to reach there in the next few decades — at least. Earth's magnetic poles change slowly over time, so I don't see anything catastrophic happening. Why would it wink out of existence, even temporarily? Maybe someone more knowledgeable can help.

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Location of Earth's magnetic north pole

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Magnetic_Pole

 

Magnetic pole reversals are thought to occur

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_reversal

 

No one is really sure what consequences there would be if the pole reversed but it has happened many times and so far the Earth abides...

Edited by Moontanman
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Whoops, mis-stated him a bit there, he did say the Ontario part, but he actually said it would be in Siberia within the next 20 years. Ewmon, I'm not sure just some speculation I was making :P Thanks for the help guys!

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The question is exactly when did the last reversal occur? Was it during the past million years? How did the reversal effect early humans?

 

"A geomagnetic reversal is a change in the Earth's magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged. The Earth's field has alternated between periods of normal polarity, in which the direction of the field was the same as the present direction, and reverse polarity, in which the field was in the opposite direction. These periods are called chrons. The time spans of chrons are randomly distributed with most being between 0.1 and 1 million years. Most reversals are estimated to take between 1,000 and 10,000 years. The latest one, the BrunhesMatuyama reversal, occurred 780,000 years ago."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_reversal

 

There were hominids at 780,000 years ago and they survived. Maybe our technology will suffer, but animals and plants seem to survive it.

Edited by Airbrush
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