The orientation of the natural magnetic field reverses once in a while. The field is currently getting weaker; this could indicate that it will flip in the next centuries.
A weaker field can be bad for some satellites and some astronauts. In rare cases, it can affect the electricity grid as well. None of this is a sudden process. The magnetic field will probably just continue to get slightly weaker within our lifetime.
A magnetic field flip known as the geometric reversal is a phenomenon in which the magnetic field of the planet changes position in such a way that the magnetic North and south both are interchanged. From a statistical perspective, reversals are random occurrences. It has been estimated that over the last 83 million years, around 183 reversals have taken place. The latest, Brunhes-Matuyama reversal took place 780,000 years ago. Several estimates state that it took 7000 years on average for the latest four reversals to complete.
Furthermore, it is suggested that reversals depend on latitude, which is shorter at low altitudes and longer on mid and high altitudes. Even though a reversal duration is variable, it normally ranges between 2000 and 12000 years. Scientists estimate that the reversals taking place in the past have been slugghish with the North and south moving to the opposite directions over thousands of years. This is both good and bad if you are wondering about how it will affect life on earth.
The sluggish polder meander is good considering that we have time to prepare, and we shall do everything in our power to accept and prevent any unpleasant effects before they actually occur. On the other hand, it is bad as well because the planet’s magnetic field protects us from the damaging solar and cosmic radiation. Therefore, a magnetic field flip means that the earth will be less likely to have protection from harmful rays for a longer period of time.
Once a magnetic field flip occurs, the only difference you shall notice is in the direction displayed by the compass needle. It will tell you that North is in Antarctica and South is somewhere near Canada. As a result, this will make the names of American continents confusing for a short period. Furthermore, animals that make use of the earth’s magnetic field for navigation such as birds, salmon, and sea turtles will be confused as well and lost during their journeys. However, this will not remain for long, and they will eventually figure it out, and life will go on.
While people may think that it is nothing to worry about, they may be wrong. Although poles do indeed reverse and the earth’s magnetic field could become weaker, but its strength is already variable, and there is no indication that it will vanish completely, why? Because NASA states that it never has. However, if the magnetic field gets weaker and remains that way for an appreciable amount of time, the earth will become less protected from the effects of the high-energy particles floating around in space. This means that everything on the planet will be exposed to higher radiations, which could result in the increase of harmful diseases such as cancer and harm delicate aircraft and power grids on earth.
The thing with magnetic field flipping is that no one can stop it. It is bound to take place, especially considering that it has been taking place thousands of years ago. The only thing in hand is to prepare for it. Furthermore, it is not going to be as dramatic as people assume it would be.
However, we are doing a great job in damaging and altering the way ecosystems work by introducing carcinogenic toxins and gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Therefore, we have bigger worries to look after at the moment rather than the magnetic field flip. If we are worried about the magnetic field, flip exposing us to harmful radiation, then it would be hypocritical to not act towards preventing damage to the ozone layer through carbon emissions and the waste we dump into the sea and burn.
In the end, as far as the magnetic field flip goes, the only thing we could do is prevent the damage that is taking place at the moment so that it does not add up when the magnetic field flip takes place.