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Name: Tero S Janka
Status: Student
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Question:
Earth is about to change its magnetic poles in the year 2000. It will cause your compass to point towards south instead of the recent north. During this process earth's magnetic field weakens and this could possibly have an effect on Earth's atmosphere. Particles could come directly from the sun to atmosphere and react with the ozone layer weakening it. Is it possible? Perhaps the process has already started. I am a Finnish University Student.



Replies:
I am aware that Earth's magnetic poles change sometimes, but this is the first I have heard that it might change in the next six years. I suppose that a weaker field would allow more charged particles to enter the atmosphere, and perhaps interact with atmospheric chemistry. This is a good question for further research - look up the scientists who responded to ozone questions in the archive of old environmental questions - I think you may have better luck if you put the question directly to an atmospheric chemist or physicist.

One expert in the field is (no joke intended): Dr. Bruce Luyendyk at University of California Santa Barbara.

Mortis


Geomagnetic reversals do occur quickly on a geologic time scale - this means thousands or tens of thousands of years. To my knowledge no (reputable) scientists have ever claimed that these reversals can occur in just a few years. It is true, however, that the earth's magnetic field protects the earth from particles emitted by the sun, and losing that magnetic field could wreak havoc on life on earth.

Grant L



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