North slips south but no need to panic
Cyprus-mail.com - Mon 11 Feb 07:19 GMT

North slips south but no need to panic

By Gwynne Dyer For a moment there I thought we had a new global threat to deal with, alongside the old favourites like climate change, nuclear war and pandemics. This would have been welcome from a journalistic point of view, since there is a constant need fo…

  I was also experiencing some personal indignation, since the putative new threat, the imminent reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field, was undermining one of the few practical skills I have retained from my early career in various navies: the ability to navigate by magnetic compasses.

  Unfortunately, the magnetic compass points to the Magnetic North Pole, which is in a different place from the true North Pole.

  We were trained to add the annual shift of the Magnetic Pole since the chart was printed to the local  ‘variation’ from True North, and by applying that difference we could steer and navigate accurately using the magnetic compass.

  It will now be the other end of the needle that points to ‘Magnetic North’, but the magnetic field will still fulfil its primary function of trapping the high-energy particles that would otherwise bathe the planet’s surface in radiation.

  The consensus among scientists is that the surface of the planet is not bombarded by hard radiation during the intervals when the Earth’s internally generated magnetic field all but disappears for a time.