The magnetic field of our plant is not a continuous, perfect, and everlasting entity. It is subject to change due to the changes that the Earth undergoes now and then. The changes in the magnetic field are nothing new. They have been happening for a long time before our arrival and will be happening a long time after we are gone.
However, like a hundred years ago, we are not indifferent to these changes now. A lot of our efforts and funds go towards determining the condition of different geological components of our planet because a lot of modern technological infrastructure depends on it.
Researchers have been monitoring a weak spot in the planet’s magnetic field for decades now. They have been conducting studies frequently to determine how the weak spot is changing over time. Known as the South Atlantic Anomaly, it is almost like a dent in the field over the South Atlantic Ocean.
The importance of the magnetic field cannot be overstated; apart from protecting us from the harmful charged particles that the Sun flings at us every instance of its existence, it is also responsible for maintaining certain geological cycles. A new study suggests that that the dent is getting weaker now. The change is not harmful to humans. However, it could be harmful to certain satellites.
The particles that the Earth’s magnetic field blocks are especially harmful to expensive electronic circuitry, such as the one that is onboard satellites. This provides the researchers with another motivation to carefully examine the dent and its shifting location to prevent any fateful encounter between a charged particle and an unsuspecting satellite. Our knowledge of the anomaly stretches a span of decades. New studies have revealed that the dent is spreading out. It is changing the shape of the area as well as weakening it.
Mathematical modelling and satellite measurements both agree on the fact that the area will continue to grow and weaken over the next few years. The cause of the magnetic field, in general, is very well known; the churning of molten metal produces it in the core of the planet. However, the reason behind the existence of the South Atlantic Anomaly is still unknown. Researchers say that the area also seems to be splitting in two. However, the details about this phenomenon are few in numbers.
The magnetic field is the weakest at the equator, where the dent is located, which makes it worse than if it were at any other place. The further study of this phenomenon could provide researchers with some invaluable insight into the inner workings of the planet’s processes and maybe result in some great scientific discovery as well.