VIA| SCIENTISTS have warned Earth could be heading towards an extraordinary event which would see compasses point SOUTH and the sun rise in the West.
Climate researchers believe we are heading towards a reversal of the planet’s magnetic field, which some fear will lead to the end of the human race and even have wiped out the neanderthals.
Doommongers have predicted that a swap of the magnetic poles from north to south would shift the continents so fiercely it would trigger mass earthquakes, rapid climate change, extinctions and global destruction.
Geologists have said this event has happened a number of times in Earth’s history – with the last one 780,000 years ago during the stone age.
Alan Thompson, head of geomagnetism at the British Geological Survey, said during previous flips: “no worldwide shifting of continents or other planet-wide disasters occurred, as geoscientists can testify to from fossil and other records.”
Earthquakes aside, there is a scientific belief that as we head towards a reversal – which could be less than 1,000 years away, Earth’s magnetic field could dangerously weaken leaving us at the mercy of solar storms when radiation and X-rays are ejected from the Sun towards our planet.
The corneal ejections are so powerful, they lead to the stunning Northern Lights auroras visible in the northern hemisphere, but our magnetic field protects us from the true effects.
Without a magnetic field, or with a significantly reduced one it could destroy global communications facilities, power supplies, and lead to fires and rioting on the streets.
Skin cancer levels are also likely to soar as our natural UV screen, the ozone layer, would be lost.
Last month www.express.co.uk reported how there are fears if there is another major solar flare as powerful as the last recorded strongest in Victorian times, trillions of pounds of damage could be done to the economy by power and communication blackouts.
A weak or reversed field could disorientate species that use magnetism to navigate, such as bees, salmon, and pigeons, and there are no conclusions yet as to the outcome.
But it is scientifically accepted out magnetic field has significantly weaker over the past 160 years and it is believed this could mean we are heading for the next big polar reversal, which could happen any time between 1,000 to 10,000 years to finish.
Geologic record shows hundreds of pole reversals have occurred through Earth’s history.
It is caused by patches of iron atoms in our liquid outer core getting reverse-aligned, as if they were small magnets oriented in the opposite direction to others around them.
If reversed ions expand to the stage they out power the others, the Earth’s overall magnetic field “flips”.
Jean-Pierre Valet, who conducts research on geomagnetic reversals at the Institute of Earth Physics of Paris, said: “The most dramatic changes that occur when the poles reverse is a very large decrease of the total field intensity.”
Monika Korte, the scientific director of the Niemegk Geomagnetic Observatory at GFZ Potsdam in Germany, said: “It’s not a sudden flip, but a slow process, during which the field strength becomes weak, very probably the field becomes more complex and might show more than two poles for a while, and then builds up in strength and [aligns] in the opposite direction.”
When the magnetic field gets weakest, as ours should continue to do so, is when we are at most risk from solar flares.
John Tarduno, professor of geophysics at the University of Rochester, said: “Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) occasionally occur on the Sun, and sometimes hurtle directly toward Earth.
“Some of the particles associated with CMEs can be blocked by Earth’s magnetic field. With a weak field, this shielding is less efficient.”
Mr Valet finished research last year which concluded the extinction of Neanderthal man – one of our evolutionary ancestors – around 55,000 years ago coincided with a dramatic weakening of the magnetic field, which nearly, but didn’t end up leading to a flip.
Some scientists disagree a flip and weakened magnetic field would mean species extinctions.
Other experts aren’t convinced that there’s a connection between pole reversals and species extinctions. “Even if the field becomes very weak, at the Earth’s surface we are shielded from radiation by the atmosphere. Similarly as we cannot see or feel the presence of the geomagnetic field now, we most likely would not notice any significant change from a reversal,” Korte said.
One thing is clear though another flip WILL happen at some stage and our magnetic field has already weakened.
It is believed a growing patch of reverse-alignment in the liquid core beneath Brazil and the South Atlantic is responsible.
Mr Tarduno said: “(It) has been decreasing for at least 160 years at an alarming rate, leading some to speculate that we are heading toward a reversal.”