News and Trends

Alert: the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening

An important alert just lift the European Space Agency (ESA), which indicated that the magnetic field of the Earth is weakening gradually, in an area that extends from Africa to South america, and that it is causing technical problems on satellites that orbit the planet.

The scientists are using data from the constellation Swarm (designed to identify and measure precisely the different magnetic signals that make up the Earth’s magnetic field) to better understand this area, known as the “anomaly of the South Atlantic”.

The magnetic field is a dynamic force that protects us from cosmic radiation and charged particles from the Sun. In large part this is generated by the ocean of molten iron superhot and turbulent that makes up the outer core of the Earth, about 3,000 km beneath our feet.

It has also been shown to have dynamic movements, because the position of the magnetic field of the North Pole is a while ago by changing at great speed.

According to the ESA, this earth’s magnetic field comes with a gradual decrease and that is a loss of 9% of their strength.

“Between 1970 and 2020, the minimum intensity of the field in this area dropped from around 24,000 to 22,000 nanoteslas, while the area of the anomaly has increased and has shifted to the west to a pace of about 20 km per year. In addition, in the last five years there has been a second center of minimum intensity to the southwest of Africa, suggesting that the anomaly of the South Atlantic could be dividing in two”, they argue.

Jürgen Matzka, the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ), explains: “The new low east of the anomaly of the South Atlantic takes a decade to be formed, although in recent years has accelerated their development. We are very lucky to have the Swarm satellite to investigate the evolution of this anomaly. The challenge now is to understand the processes in the earth’s core that cause these changes.”

One of the speculations on these magnetic changes is that this could lead to a reversal of the north and south poles, something that happens about every 250,000 years.

The ESA argues that the main difficulty of this weakening is that “satellites and other spacecraft that orbit the area to experience technical failures, given the greater weakness of the magnetic field in that region, which allows the charged particles to penetrate to the altitudes of satellites in low-earth orbit earth”.

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