New satellite data from the European Space Agency (ESA) shows that the Earth’s magnetic field is becoming weaker between Africa and South America.
The weakening of the Earth’s magnetic field is related to the South Atlantic Anomaly, an area that has grown considerably in recent years, and the reason is still unknown. The South Atlantic Anomaly is a vast expanse of reduced magnetic intensity in the magnetic field of our planet, stretching from South America to southwest Africa.
According to ESA, the magnetic field lost more than 8% of its strength in the area of the anomaly between 1970 and 2020. “The new, eastern minimum of the South Atlantic Anomaly has appeared over the last decade and in recent years is developing vigorously,” said Jürgen Matzka, from the German Research Centre for Geosciences, in a statement.
“We are very lucky to have the Swarm satellites in orbit to investigate the development of the South Atlantic Anomaly. The challenge now is to understand the processes in Earth’s core driving theses changes,” he added.
A weakened magnetic field could mean, according to ESA experts, that the Earth’s magnetic field is about to reverse, a situation in which the North Pole and the South Pole swap positions. The last geomagnetic reversal occurred 780 million years ago, with some scientists arguing that the next one should have already happened. As a rule, this phenomenon occurs every 250,000 years.
For now, ESA says there is no reason for concern. According to the European Space Agency, the most significant effects of this weakening will be on satellites and spacecraft, which may register technical failures due to an increased amount charged particles in the Earth’s low orbit.
Scientists will remain alert to any changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, as it is responsible for protecting our planet from deadly radiation from space. Without the magnetic field, life on Earth would be annihilated.