The weakening Earth's magnetic field has got scientists worried and wondering. The phenomenon is observed in a large area from Africa to South America for unknown reasons. While the researchers are still looking for an explanation, the changes in the magnetic field are causing technical problems in satellites orbiting Earth and spacecraft.
According to Independent, researchers are using data gathered by the European Space Agency's (ESA) Swarm constellation of satellites to understand the changes taking place in an area known as South Atlantic Anomaly. The data includes information gathered over 50 years whereby it was found that the area has dropped in strength by more than eight percent between 1970 and 2020.
The Earth's magnetic field is also known as a geomagnetic field that extends from Earth's interior out into space. It is an important and dynamic force that helps in sustaining life on our planet. It protects our planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation and deflects solar winds that can strip away the ozone layer in our atmosphere.
"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. "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 these changes."
While there is no certain explanation about the changing strength of magnetic fields of earth, the scientists believe that one reason could be a shift in Earth's north pole and south pole. The weakening field is considered to be a sign of possible pole reversal wherein the pole's shift places.
As per the report, the last time such a shift took place was 780,000 years ago. It is believed to be long overdue since such a "geomagnetic reversal" usually takes place every 250,000 years. The impact is already being felt. The satellites are experiencing technical issues and ESA has warned that the spacecraft could also experience "technical malfunctions." Meanwhile, the space agency assures that it is constantly monitoring the changes in the magnetic field.
"The mystery of the origin of the South Atlantic Anomaly has yet to be solved," the space agency stated. "However, one thing is certain: magnetic field observations from Swarm are providing exciting new insights into the scarcely understood processes of Earth's interior."