While an idea such as – the poles of the Earth flipping – might sound far fetched, but it did occur once, around 780,000 years ago during the Stone Age. Scientists suggest that an impending reversal is about to happen again in the not too distant future if Earth’s poles flip.
The Earth’s magnetic field though invisible, protects the Earth from harmful solar radiation by deflecting charged articles. Another important function of the poles is to keep Earth’s atmosphere in place.
In the last reversal, which lasted a few thousand years, the effects of the polar flip were not well documented as humans were not around then, so if it would happen now, we can only speculate as to the effects.
What to expect in the event of a reversal
The most visible effect would be the weakening of the Earth’s shielding effect which would cause levels of radiation to go up. This would happen on the Earth and above it, and would cause a great risk for the aviation industry, satellites and any infrastructure on the ground that is electrically based.
Geomagnetic storms, which occur regularly, would be the closest of what we would feel if Earth’s poles flipped. This is usually when large solar disruptions occur and thread with Earth’s magnetic field.
Concerning the animal and plant life, not much can be predicted, as humans were not there during the last pole reversal. Theories suggest there would probably be a mass extinction of everything on Earth, as well as non-stop volcanic eruptions that would end the Earth as we know it. There is no evidence to back up those theories; we will just have to be patient and wait for it to happen so we can really know that this could happen.
Animals that use the Earth’s pole to migrate would be affected for sure, but nobody can tell how exactly.
Prediction of a pole flip
According to scientists, pole reversals should happen after a certain period of time, for instance 10 millenia. This means we are already overdue for the next pole reversal happening. The Earth’s field reducing at a rate of 5% per century has already fueled theories that the pole reversal will happen in the next 2,000 years. Predicting an exact date though, is not an easy task.
The way Earth’s magnetic field moves is similar to the atmosphere and oceans and governed by the laws of physics. If the movement of the Earth’s core is tracked, as it is a molten liquid, then a pole flip can be predicted with a small margin of error. Just as we look at oceans and the atmosphere to predict weather, the Earth’s liquid core can provide vital clues.
Will technology help us if Earth’s poles flip?
Located 1860 miles under rock, it is not as easy as it looks. But with ground based observatories and satellites above which show us the movement of the Earth’s liquid core; we are not very far off. With time, and technology as our ally, we will soon be able to predict an occurrence like the pole flip with relative ease.