A new study suggests that Earth’s magnetic field could take just 100 years to flip – and there’s evidence it could happen again in a couple of thousand years. We think of north and south as being pretty constant, but the Earth’s magnetic field has flipped many times throughout the planet’s history, generally without causing huge catastrophes.
The Earth’s magnetic field is dipole, like that of a magnet, which means it has two opposite poles. Usually this magnetic field maintains the same intensity for thousands to million of years, but for unknown reasons, it occasionally weakens and reverses direction, a process that scientists previously thought took thousands of years.
But now scientists have discovered that the last magnetic reversal happened 786,000 years ago, and it actually occurred very quickly, within around 100 years. This means north and south could swap positions in the span of a human lifetime, which is pretty crazy to think about. Via Earth’s magnetic field could flip much faster than previously predicted.