Sunday, April 19, 2009

Shifting Magnetic Poles

Guess what? Earth's magnetic poles are due for a shift. To help explain what that actually means, I've tapped into the Smithsonian's information system and gathered the following for your education:

"Like a bar magnet, Earth has a magnetic field with two main poles. This magnetic field not only enables us to use compasses to find our way at the surface, it also tells us about Earth's deep interior. That’s because the field is generated by motions within the outer core.
Earth contains a dynamic electromagnet. Our planet's rotation causes molten iron-nickel in its outer core to circulate, creating electrical currents and a magnetic field."

"Are Earth’s Magnetic Poles Stable?
No. They wander over the Earth’s surface. Since 1945, they have moved at a rate of almost 12 km a year — a clue to the dynamic origin of our magnetic field. About every 500,000 years Earth's magnetic field gets progressively weaker, vanishes, then reappears with the magnetic North and South poles reversed. If you're standing at the North Pole, you're about 15 degrees (1,670 km, or 1,035 mi) away from its slowly migrating magnetic pole. "

I just so happens that when the Solar System passes through the alignment plane with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy (see the previous post), the magnetic poles will be at the greatest distance from the rotational poles, and because the Earth does not rotate on a vertical access in relation to its rotation around the Sun, the rotational poles will be at their greatest distance from the Sun's axis. Additionally, with December 21, 2012, being the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, at that particular day, the greatest gravitational, nuclear, and magnetic strain will be applied to the Earth's magnetic poles.
Should they undergo a sudden shift as the planet and solar system passes through the Galactic plane, the destructive effects would be enormous - possibly even resulting in tipping the Earth on its side, causing an unstable wobble, altering the seasons, causing extreme temperature changes, and weather conditions. Essentially making life as we currently know it impossible on the planet. Thus - the end of the world.


  1. If the poles shift, without the Earth tilting sideways and all the nastiness that goes along with that, what will happen? Will the magnetic pole reversal disprupt satellite communications? Will our magnetic field defense against solar wind change? Or will it be business as usual?

  2. Wait - really? The earth could tip on it's side? If the balance is that delicate - doesn't that make you believe that the randomness of a big bang and/or evolution is crazy talk? Seems like a more divine plan going on here...

  3. I'm curious to know what side of this you fall on. Do you believe the world will end or aliens will arrive or are you posting these as a socialogical experiement?

  4. Another question for you -- why would shifting magnetic poles be much of an issue, let alone flip the Earth on its side? Our magnetic poles shift dramatically today, as you pointed out in this post. We've flipped a few times as well. It seems we might have some electrical blackouts, but not much of a geologic shift.

  5. WOW! What an interesting set of questions.
    Endora: If the magnetic poles shift, the structural stress it will create in every piece of operating electronic/electrical machine will essentially destroy the machine. If they fade away and reform, another possibility, then when they are at their weakest, the protection they offer to Earth will also disappear - leaving us and all of our electronics vulnerable to high energy bursts and flares from the sun.
    David: Yep! Unlikely, but possible. Could roll us on a whole new axis depending on how far off center the pivot and magnetic axes are when the transition occurs. It might even be worse for humans if the Earth simply wobbles for a while.
    Turner: Currently, I am struggling with what to believe and as I work to better understand everything that could happen, and that has happened in the past, I will better resolve my own position. And I am looking forward to seeing the World as we know it come to an end.