Scientists: Earth's Magnetic Field May 'Flip' Sooner Than Expected

Dustin Wicksell

According to scientists, Earth's magnetic field may be on the brink of flipping, reversing the North and South poles far sooner than previously expected.

The magnetic poles of the Earth have shifted before, according to geophysicists, though the last time was 780,000 years ago. It appears as if another switch may be on the horizon and, as The Daily Express points out, the magnetic poles may reverse far sooner than expected.

The planet's magnetic field is now weakening by about five percent per decade, ten times faster than the expected rate of five percent per century. According to researchers, this indicates a imminent shift in the magnetic field, a process that they estimate could begin within the next 2,000 years.

"Similar to a hurricane, you can't predict [exactly] when or where a reversal will start, even though you understand the basic physics," said Gary Glatzmaier, a geophysicist at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

— The Ice Age (@Jamie_Woodward_) October 12, 2014

Researchers have warned that a magnetic reversal of the Earth's poles could have disastrous effects on global power and communications networks. A worldwide blackout has been postulated as one of the most catastrophic effects of a magnetic shift, though a reversal would effect far more than just man-made technology.

— Franklin Lopez (@trueblue51) October 12, 2014

[Image: Getty via The Daily Express]