Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Earth’s polar reversal had drastic consequences: what will happen if it happens again? – Terrace


The Earth’s magnetic pole reversal and declining solar activity may have created an apocalyptic environment 42,000 years ago that may have contributed to a series of significant events, from the extinction of the megafauna to the extinction of the Neanderthals.

The Earth’s magnetic field protects the planet from deadly radiation from outer space, but when the magnetic corners change, which has happened many times in the past, this protective shield weakens drastically, exposing the planet to the electrically charged particles of the solar wind. online edition.

Drastic consequences

Our planet’s magnetic field has weakened by roughly 9 percent over the past 170 years, and researchers say the possibility of another pole change cannot be ruled out. Such an event could also have drastic consequences, such as damage to and destruction of the electricity and satellite networks.

The so-called Laschamps shift was a temporary pole change 42 thousand years ago and lasted for about a thousand years. Previous studies have found little evidence that the event had a significant impact on the Earth, presumably because it did not focus specifically on the time at which the corners changed.

However, experts at the University of New South Wales say the pole shift, coupled with a period of low solar activity, may have been behind a number of climatic and environmental phenomena with drastic consequences.

The authors of a study published in the scientific journal Science conducted carbon isotope dating on the annual rings of ancient New Zealand deer pines. This made it possible to track the increase in the atmospheric concentration of the radioactive isotope C-14 (carbon-14), which was the result of an increase in high-energy cosmic radiation reaching the Earth during the Laschamps shift.

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Experts also examined samples from around the world, including ice cores, found that a number of significant environmental changes, such as a significant increase in the ice cover covering present-day North America, occurred in parallel with increasing atmospheric concentrations of the radioactive C-14 isotope.

The results of the analysis of the ice cores further suggested that the Laschamps shift may have coincided with a decrease in solar activity, the so-called High Solar Minima. The results show that atmospheric changes have had a significant impact on, among other things, the climate.

Environmental changes, in addition to likely amplifying the growth of ice sheets and contributing to the extinction of the Australian megafauna, may also have played a role in the proliferation of red-dyeed handprints, as people were able to use this pigment as sunscreen against increased ultraviolet radiation.

During this period, caves were also increasingly used by our ancestors, and cave drawings also proliferated, as these underground areas may have provided protection against harsh climatic and environmental conditions. All of this could have intensified the competition among the Neanderthals and contributed to their extinction.

Photos: Getty Images

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