Texts and descriptions are fine and dandy, but to see planet Earth for what it is is another thing altogether.
As the inner core cools, crystallizing iron releases impurities, sending lighter molten material into the liquid outer core. In the last decade, seismic waves from earthquakes revealed the inner core looks like a navel orange, bulging slightly more on its western half. Peter Olson and Renaud Deguen, geophysicists at Johns Hopkins University, set out to test this theory, called translational instability.
Olson and Deguen found that adding inner-core asymmetry shifted magnetic north away from the center of the Earth, into the cooling hemisphere. Geophysicist Bruce Buffett said Olson and Deguen's research is intriguing, but there are still questions about the underlying theory. Magnetic Mayhem - Is Earth's fluctuating magnetic field responsible for recent spike in mass animal deaths? From warmest December on record to blizzards, wild winter sets records across the northeastern U.S. Even the best laid and carefully crafted plans have loose ends which end up being found and leaked.
Rocks record the direction of the ambient magnetic field as they form, allowing us to reconstruct the history of these reversals.
The question of whether we should be expecting a reversal is most easily addressed by taking a longer view. Fortunately, rocks can preserve information about the palaeointensity (literally, ancient intensity) of the Earth’s magnetic field. The other interesting thing about this record is that the field has behaved in quite a consistent way during every reversal. To really place recent field behaviour in context, we really need a better idea of what was going on geomagnetically prior to the instrumental record.
But seriously, this is a nice post and should be distributed to Earth Science teachers everywhere. One interesting question is what happens to oganisms, especially birds, that use the magnetic signal to orient for long distance migrations or other navigation. Presumably adjustments are made during periods of excursion, but one would think that rapid shifts would cause a certain amount of disruption and confusion, and maybe a bit of unnatural selection …. Charged particles from the solar wind (~ 1 keV) would slowly erode Earth’s atmosphere if the magnetic field went away.
As for the Cretaceous Normal Superchron, palaeointensity measurements from that era suggest that the field was very strong, and therefore stable. When the OP says multiply, wander, and so on, this means that the relative strengths of various terms needed to make this a useful description of the earth’s field (the dipole, quadrupole, octopole, and so on) will change. Convection in the outer core normally seems to have a fair degree of large scale organisation, which produces a simple, dominantly dipolar, magnetic field. Then there’s the considerations surrounding the magnetosphere and how it protects us from solar rays. There was a paper a few years ago that calculated that the stronger multipole field during inversions would induce a magnetic field in the ionosphere, which would take over the protection function of the magnetosphere. And I thought that these outer core convection cells are influenced by the position of the continents (thicker crust). PS – thanks for posting your work, I appreciate the willingness to share info and ideas on the web.
One of the side effects of magnetic reversal is that for a period of time the earth’s overall magnetic field will be very irregular.
There could be a number of reasons for Mars’s dead dynamo, it still has a molten core, so if it could suddenly start losing alot of heat, presumably the dynamo could start up tomorrow (well, geologically tomorrow). My point is, that the causes for the death of the dynamo aren’t well enough understood to be saying things without noting the extreme uncertainties in our knowledge of a dynamo that died billions of years ago. Says the modelling- until we get a seismometer up there we won’t be able to confirm that hypothesis. Using radio tracking of Mars Global Surveyor some people confirmed that there is a part of the outer core that remains liquid to this day.
I do believe a new age is almost upon us and that we will be enlightened when the pole shift occurs. Prepare yourselves for 3.5 days of darkness when the earth stops rotating and the 6 hrs it will take for pole changes!
Earth's magnetic field, also known as the geomagnetic field, is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth's interior to where it meets the solar wind, a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun. The North and South magnetic poles wander widely, but sufficiently slowly for ordinary compasses to remain useful for navigation. The magnetosphere is the region above the ionosphere and extends several tens of thousands of kilometers into space, protecting the Earth from the charged particles of the solar wind and cosmic rays that would otherwise strip away the upper atmosphere, including the ozone layer that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) reach Earth affecting planetary magnetics, sparking geomagnetic storms, shifting ocean and jet stream currents in the Pacific Ring of Fire, creating unusual and extreme global weather patterns, creating unstoppable Earth changes, and affecting the behavior patterns of all sentient life forms. Earth's last magnetic reversal took place 786,000 years ago and happened very quickly, in less than 100 years -- roughly a human lifetime.
Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm.
The solution to a long-standing puzzle, why magnetic north sits off the coast of Canada, rather than at the North Pole, may have been found in the strange, lopsided nature of Earth's inner core. For migratory birds and sea turtles, the ability to sense the Earth's magnetic field is crucial to navigating the long-distance voyages these animals undertake during migration. Humans may have a sixth sense after all, suggests a new study finding that a protein in the human retina, when placed into fruit flies, has the ability to detect magnetic fields.
A light-sensitive protein in the human eye has been shown to act as a "compass" in a magnetic field, when it is present in flies' eyes. In order to date environmental events from Earth's history such as meteorite impacts or climate change - geologists have long studied variations in slow-growing seafloor sedimentary rocks called ferromanganese crusts that build up in layers over the eons. Scientists have managed to push back the date for the earliest known presence of a magnetic field on Earth by about 250 million years. Building on prior investigation into the biological mechanisms through which monarch butterflies are able to migrate up to 2,000 miles from eastern North America to a particular forest in Mexico each year, neurobiologists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have linked two related photoreceptor proteins found in butterflies to animal navigation using the Earth's magnetic field.
The magnetic equivalent of electricity in a 'spin ice' material: atom sized north and south poles in spin ice drift in opposite directions when a magnetic field is applied. Princeton University scientists have shown that, in ancient times, the Earth's magnetic field was structured like the two-pole model of today, suggesting that the methods geoscientists use to reconstruct the geography of early land masses on the globe are accurate. The flow of seawater across Earth's surface could be responsible for small fluctuations in the planet's magnetic field, a controversial new study says. NASA's Swift satellite reported multiple blasts of radiation from a rare object known as a soft gamma repeater, or SGR. An enormous eruption has found its way to Earth after traveling for many thousands of years across space. Based on studies of old volcanic basalt, scientists know that the EarthOs magnetic field reverses at irregular intervals, ranging from tens of thousands to millions of years. An unexpected, thick layer of solar particles inside Earth's magnetic field suggests there are huge breaches in our planet's solar defenses.
Scientists have found two large leaks in Earth's magnetosphere, the region around our planet that shields us from severe solar storms.
NASA's five THEMIS spacecraft have discovered a breach in Earth's magnetic field ten times larger than anything previously thought to exist.
Ancient lava flows are guiding a better understanding of what generates and controls the Earth's magnetic field - and what may drive it to occasionally reverse direction. Rapid changes in the churning movement of Earth's liquid outer core are weakening the magnetic field in some regions of the planet's surface, a new study says. Earth's magnetic field is weakening in staggered steps, a new analysis of centuries-old ships logs suggests.The finding could help scientists better understand the way Earth's magnetic poles reverse.

One of the most fascinating natural phenomena on Earth is the flipping of its magnetic field, which has occurred hundreds of times in the last 160 million years. After some 400 years of relative stability, Earth's North Magnetic Pole has moved nearly 1,100 kilometers out into the Arctic Ocean during the last century and at its present rate could move from northern Canada to Siberia within the next half-century. A long look at a young pulsar with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed unexpectedly rapid cooling, which suggests that it contains much denser matter than previously expected. Earth's magnetic field has flipped many times over the last billion years, according to the geologic record.
Today it is about 10 percent weaker than it was when German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss started keeping tabs on it in 1845, scientists say. The optimization of medical accelerators is the goal of a new network within the FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network scheme.
Researchers in France have developed a new model of Earth’s magnetic field that includes a simple explanation for why it has flipped direction many times throughout Earth history.
Various theories have been put forward to explain the reversal mechanism but they are usually highly complex, where random variations in the flow of the liquid core are the main triggers. Although the Sun's visible photosphere provides the illusion of a solar "surface" that separates the Earth from the Sun, the Earth is actually moving through the outer layer of the Sun - the heliosphere. The question would still remain about what drives the quadrapole.I would suggest that the mechanism behind the magnetic polarity has to do with the direction of the atmosphere.
And this would have catastrophic consequences for humanity as when the polar shift happens the Earth will have no magnetic field for about 200 years.
Climate researchers believe we are heading towards a reversal of the planet’s magnetic field, an event that has happened before and has been attributed to wiping out the Neanderthal species and may trigger giant earthquakes, rapid climate change, extinctions and global destruction. What if the Earth was left powerless to defend against blasts of solar radiation from the Sun? Increase in solar radiation would produce amazing auroras but also have apocalyptical consequences for human beings.
Strange Sounds is your news website featuring amazing, weird and unexplained phenomena occurring around the world. It is surrounded by a liquid outer core (mostly iron and nickel), a rocky, viscous mantle layer and a thin, solid crust.
This upwelling, combined with the Earth's rotation, drives convection, forcing the molten metal into whirling vortices.
Geoscientists recently explainedthe asymmetry by proposing a convective loop: The inner core might be crystallizing on one half and melting on the other. They ran numerical models simulating the forces that generate Earth's magnetic field, and included a lopsided inner core.
Magnetic particles trapped and aligned in rocks reveal that the magnetic north pole wandered around the Western Hemisphere over the past 10,000 years, and circled the Eastern Hemisphere before that - a result mirrored by the numerical test. At the moment, magnetic field lines run from the south pole to the north pole, and point up in the southern hemisphere and down in the northern hemisphere, as in the figure on the left below.
The symmetric pattern of magnetic anomalies either side of mid-ocean ridges, give us a continuous record of magnetic reversals stretching back almost 200 million years. Effectively, the stronger the magnetizing field, the stronger the rock’s magnetisation will be.
Every switch in polarity occurs when the field is at its weakest – the palaeointensities are lower during reversals than at any other point in this record.
Problems with complex magnetic mineralogy, and overprints, and possible thermal alteration during the experiments, are also rife. I didn’t really understand the field mimimums before or that we should be able to see a reversal coming a at least a couple centuries in advance.
The total field is described in this sort of model by adding up all the terms with coefficients with large magnitudes, so the net field looks different as the magnitudes of these coefficients vary and the signs flip.
What seems to happen during reversals is that convection becomes more disorganised; this means that the magnetic field produced is also more complicated, with shorter wavelength quadropole and octopole components becoming stronger at the expense of the longer wavelength dipole field. If there was even a slight ripple in our protective covering, I think we’d be in for a world of hurt. The main thing that strikes me is that I see no mention of mechanisms, processes, forces or energy that might account for a flipping of the Earth’s magnetic field in the future (or for that matter, in the past). There are two really good counterexamples in the terrestrial planets: Mercury is much smaller than Mars and almost definitely has an active dynamo, Venus is much bigger than Mars and does not have an active dynamo.
When you see people doing mad acts as if during a full moon but 100x stronger, we will know the time is upon us. Oh, and the Earth will not stop spinning, the stars will not fall from the sky, and the Great Old Ones will not return to eat us all (probably). However, at irregular intervals averaging several hundred thousand years, the Earth's field reverses and the North and South Magnetic Poles relatively abruptly switch places.
The rapid flip, much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought, comes as new measurements show the planet's magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal and could drop to zero in a few thousand years. The layers can be dated by various means, such as by analyzing radioactive isotopes, but those methods don't provide accurate dating on small scales: a millimeter of rock, for example, can include information that spans as much as hundreds of thousands of years. The shift widens the distance between true north and magnetic north, which is the direction a compass needle points. Experts know birds possess an internal magnetic compass, but there is disagreement about what form it takes. The findings may lead to a better understanding of historical continental movement, which relates to changes in climate.
If so, the research would challenge the widely accepted theory that Earth's magnetic field is generated by a churning molten core, or dynamo, in the planet's interior. Now, astronomers report an in-depth study of these eruptions using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton and International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) satellites. Volcanic basalt rock contains magnetite, and when the rock cools, its magnetic properties are frozen, recording the Earth's magnetic field of the time. These breaches indicate that during the next period of high solar activity, due to start in 2012, Earth will experience some of the worst solar storms seen in decades.
The leaks are defying many of scientists' previous ideas on how the interaction between Earth's magnetosphere and solar wind occurs: The leaks are in an unexpected location, let in solar particles in faster than expected and the whole interaction works in a manner that is completely the opposite of what scientists had thought.
Solar wind can flow in through the opening to "load up" the magnetosphere for powerful geomagnetic storms.
The main magnetic field, generated by turbulent currents within the deep mass of molten iron of the Earth's outer core, periodically flips its direction, such that a compass needle would point south rather than north. The planet's magnetic field flips - north becomes south and vice versa - on average every 300,000 years. If that happens, Alaska may be in danger of losing one of its most stunning natural phenomena ? the Northern Lights.
The pulsar's cool temperature and the vast magnetic web of high-energy particles that surrounds it have implications for the theory of nuclear matter and the origin of magnetic fields in cosmic objects. But only in the past decade have scientists developed and evolved a computer model to demonstrate how these reversals occur.
Like a Kryptonite-challenged Superman, its strength has steadily and mysteriously waned, leaving parts of the planet vulnerable to increased radiation from space.
James Ross located the pole for the first time in 1831 after an exhausting arctic journey during which his ship got stuck in the ice for four years In 1904, Roald Amundsen found the pole again and discovered that it had moved at least 50 km since the days of Ross.
Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide. They did this by focussing on the interplay between the dipole and and quadrupole components of the field. Leading up to the flipping of the poles, the dipole reduces in intensity as the quadrupole grows in strength. What more drastic change could there be that would flip the Earth's magnetic field over a 10kyr period?What neutron star at the center of the Sun? The upper atmosphere is highly charged and the winds running around the Earth turn this into a weak current.

Swift is right.The idea of a neutron star at the core of the Sun is certainly not accepted by the broader scientific community. ManuelOf course, they also have no explanation how d- and l- amino acids were separated before life started, why solar cycles follow changes in solar inertial motion, why supposedly dead nuclear matter explodes to produce the most violent cosmic events, why Hydrogen (the supposed stellar fuel) is continuously being emitted (as an exhaust gas) from the Sun and other stars, etc., ad infinitumd- and l- amino acids were likely separated due to parity violation which is a factor in their creation and structure. Enter this community to discover and share news, videos, stories and articles on weird noises from the sky and other amazing, strange and unexplained natural events happening around the world.
The model does a good job at explaining some but not all of the features of the inner core," said Buffett, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved with the research.
Gathering a longer, more detailed record of the magnetic field's behavior, Olson said, could reveal whether the inner core acts as researchers predict.
But at many points in the past, the field lines (and compasses, if they’d been invented) pointed south, and, as the figure on the right below shows, were directed upwards in the northern hemisphere and downwards in the southern hemisphere. We palaeomagicians are particularly interested in how the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field varies during reversals, because geodynamo theory suggests that reversals are probably more likely to happen when fluctuations in outer core convection weaken and destabilise the dipole. If you measure the magnetisation acquired by your rock samples in artificial magnetic fields of known value, you can use this experimentally determined relationship to infer the strength of the geomagnetic field required to impart the original remanent magnetization. Increasing numbers of relative paleointensity records, mainly from measurements of marine sediment cores, have been published in recent years. Instead, the geomagnetic field will weaken, and the magnetic poles will start to wander to lower latitudes, and possibly multiply, over a period of hundreds and thousands of years. Intermediate charged particles ( ~ 1 keV – 1 MeV) would cause aurora effects but would cause little ground effects at sea level. Years of reading X-Men comics have taught me that reversing the Earth’s magnetic field can happen very quickly and causes massive global catastrophe. I see a reasonable argument for a decline in the strength of our magnetic field, but nothing that indicates (even remotely) impending reversal. But, as far as a polar shift, where the crust itself moves, putting the north pole somewhere in saudi, I don’t know.
My prediction is major changes starting somewhere between Dec 2011 and February 2012 which is a precurser for the shift which will occur on the equinox of Dec 21, 2012.
Roughly speaking it is the field of a magnetic dipole currently tilted at an angle of about 10 degrees with respect to Earth's rotational axis, as if there were a bar magnet placed at that angle at the center of the Earth. These reversals of the geomagnetic poles leave a record in rocks that are of value to paleomagnetists in calculating geomagnetic fields in the past. One idea is that tiny magnets in the beak wired to the nervous system detect lines of magnetic force.
By taking a closer look at the 1.1 billion-year-old volcanic rocks on the north shore of Lake Superior, the researchers have found that Earth's ancient magnetic field was a geocentric axial dipole -- essentially a large bar magnet centered in the core and aligned with the Earth's spin axis. With this data, scientists estimate that the last magnetic field reversal occurred about 780,000 years ago.
Such polarity reversals have occurred hundreds of times at irregular intervals throughout the planet's history - most recently about 780,000 years ago - but scientists are still trying to understand how and why.
Scientists already suspected birds' eyes contain molecules that are thought to sense Earth's magnetic field.
The last time this happened was some 780,000 years ago, so we could be heading for another reversal soon. The pole kept going during the 20th century, north at an average speed of 10 km per year, lately accelerating to 40 km per year. Once the dipole component has vanished it can start to grow again, as the quadrupole now drops in strength.
This weak current generates a small magnetic field which is then magnified by the Earth's core.
This does mean circularly polarized light from synchrotron emission of neutron stars could cause this, but it doesn't mean there is a neutron star at the core of our sun.
Currently, the center of the field, called an axis, emerges in the Arctic Ocean west of Ellesmere Island, about 300 miles (500 kilometers) from the geographic North Pole.
This prediction is particularly relevant in light of the fact that the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field has been steadily decreasing, at a rate of about 5% a century, since we first started directly measuring it in the mid 1800s. In each case, the reversal is preceded by at least 20,000-40,000 years of fairly continuous decay in field strength to about the same (very low) value, with a much more rapid recovery in field strength following the transition. It looks dramatic from the perspective of Deep Time, but during a reversal the changes over a human lifetime will probably be little different from the secular variation we see today. Unlike a bar magnet, however, Earth's magnetic field changes over time because it is generated by a geodynamo (in Earth's case, the motion of molten iron alloys in its outer core). Such information in turn is helpful in studying the motions of continents and ocean floors in the process of plate tectonics.
New findings show that a missing piece of the traditional theory explaining why metals become less conductive when they are heated was needed to complete the puzzle of this field-generating process. The planet's magnetic field is on the move, a normal enough phenomenon, but one that has some rather bizarre implications, such as the need to renumber airport runways. Another is that magnetic fields are ''seen'' via the eyes using a light-sensitive mechanism. Researchers are even more amazed at the strange and unexpected way it forms, overturning long-held ideas of space physics. In a new study, German researchers found that these molecules are linked to an area of the brain known to process visual information. There, the heat of the Earth's solid inner core churns a liquid outer core composed of iron and nickel.
What is uncertain is whether the weakened field is on the way to a complete collapse and a reversal that would flip the North and South Poles. Some studies have suggested that magnetic reversals are accompanied by major climatic change such as the onset of ice ages and reversals in the prevaling winds. No extinction event has ever been linked to a magnetic field reversal, and I think that we might just cope with the next one too – whenever it might occur. Then this last week I read an article on whales being beached by the 100’s in Australia.
Tampa International Airport on Florida's west coast just finished renaming its three runways, a laborious project that interrupted airport traffic for a month while runways were shut down for repainting. The new research suggests that, for robins at least, the second theory is probably correct.
In that sense, "birds may see the magnetic field," said study lead author Dominik Heyers, a biologist at the University of Oldenburg. Since 1840, when accurate measures of the intensity were first made, the field strength has declined by about 5 percent per century. The churning acts like convection, which generates electric currents and, as a result, a magnetic field. Without a better idea of how the geodynamo behaves over geological time, there’s no way of knowing. This event was not limited to the one time but has happened several times over the last few months. German scientists studied 36 European robins and found birds with damage to ''cluster N'' were unable to orientate themselves using the Earth's magnetic field.
Human-made compasses work by using Earth as an enormous magnet and orienting a tiny magnet attached to a needle to the planet's north and south poles. If this decline is continuous, the magnetic field could drop to zero and reverse sometime within the next 2,000 years. But the field might not always be in steady decline, according to a new study appearing in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science. The rotational effect helps scientists understand what's happening inside the Earth's core.

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