An imminent polar reversal on planet Earth - a North and South Pole switch - and thus a weakening of the planet’s magnetic field in parts of the globe would definitely bring about at least some changes to how Earth would be protected from harmful ultraviolet radiation, as well as space winds, News18 reported, citing scientists.
Satellites are feared to be rendered non-operational, which would automatically mean massive disruptions to global communication systems, including telecom networks and Internet connection. Scientists say spacecraft flying through an area with a depleted magnetic force, as the North Pole and South Pole are set to swap places, are more likely to experience technical issues.
According to Mike Hapgood, a scientist who focused on geomagnetic storms and conducted a study on the solar storm of 1921, a powerful geomagnetic event would disrupt most technological innovations that people widely exploit nowadays.
"This could include regional power outages, profound changes to satellite orbits, and loss of radio-based technologies such as GPS", he said in a statement, as per SpaceWeather.com.
"The disruption of GPS could significantly impact logistics and emergency services”, he went on.
Although magnetic field reversals don’t usually happen overnight, concerns have mounted over how the main consequences could be avoided, or at least, promptly fixed.
In a recent statement, the ESA warned about the weakening of Earth’s vital magnetic field, generated by superheated liquid iron hundreds of kilometres beneath the planetary surface. According to the ESA, over the last 200 years, the Earth’s magnetic field has lost 9 percent of its strength.
In 1958, scientists discovered the South Atlantic Anomaly, an area that sits between Africa and South America where the magnetic field has been weakening the most. According to the ESA’s latest study, this area has expanded and moved westward at a speed of around 12 miles (20 km) per year.
One theory that may explain the magnetic field’s bizarre behaviour is a reversal of the North and South Poles, a process during which the poles switch places. It has occurred many times throughout history - roughly every 250,000 years - and the ESA says that now "we are long overdue”. However, it assures, these events hardly pose any direct danger to humanity, except the aforementioned technical malfunctions.