The Earth’s magnetic field is weakening between Africa and South America, disrupting satellites and spacecrafts. Scientists studying the phenomenon known as the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA), say the Earth’s magnetic field is about to reverse. NASA has reported that modern laptops have crashed when Space Shuttle flights passed through the anomaly. South Atlantic Anomaly is thought to be the reason for the failures of the Globalstar network’s satellites in 2007. The last time a “geomagnetic reversal” took place was 780,000 years ago
Using data gathered by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm constellation of satellites, researchers noted that the area of the anomaly dropped in strength by more than 8 per cent 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.
“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.”
One possibility, according to the ESA, is that the weakening field is a sign that the Earth’s magnetic field is about to reverse, whereby the North Pole and South Pole switch places.
The last time a “geomagnetic reversal” took place was 780,000 years ago, with some scientists claiming that the next one is long overdue. Typically, such events take place every 250,000 years.
The repercussions of such an event could be significant, as the Earth’s magnetic field plays an important role in protecting the planet from solar winds and harmful cosmic radiation. Telecommunication and satellite systems also rely on it to operate, suggesting that computers and mobile phones could experience difficulties.