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Current Affairs

Earth’s weakening magnetic field

Date: 26 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Earth’s magnetic field has been weakening across a wide stretch of area for reasons unknown. Scientists have found the magnetic field from Africa to South America to be gradually weakening.

 

Background

While researchers are digging into data to learn more about the area known as ‘South Atlantic Anomaly’, the phenomenon is causing technical disturbances in satellites orbiting the earth.

 

Details

  • Scientists from the Swarm Data, Innovation and Science Cluster (DISC) are using data from ESA’s group of Swarm satellites to better understand the occurrence.

  • Earth’s magnetic field is a complex and dynamic force that helps in sustaining life by shielding us from cosmic radiations and other charged particles from the Sun.

  • It works on the basis of dynamo effect and the molten metals in the earth's core create electric currents. These, in turn, generate the electromagnetic field of the planet.

  • Experts from the European Space Agency (ESA) have warned that the changing magnetic field can affect the spacecraft in the region.

  • At surface level, the South Atlantic Anomaly does not display any harm. But, satellites and other spacecraft flying through the area usually experience technical malfunctions due to a weak magnetic field. Thus, charged particles can penetrate the altitudes of low-Earth orbit satellites.

  • The weakening of magnetic field gives rise to speculations that Earth is heading for an eminent pole reversal, a phenomenon in which north and south poles switch places.

  • According to the data given by the ESA, the magnetic field has lost nearly nine per cent of its strength on a global average in the last 200 years. This year, the “minimum field strength” in the South Atlantic Anomaly has seen a drop of around 24,000 nanoteslas to 22,000 from its strength in 1970.

  • The area of anomaly has also grown in this period. The patch has also moved farther west at a rate of roughly 12 miles per hour over the last 50 years.