The earth has known upheaval since it was born billions of years ago. In a new study recently published in the journal Science, researchers found that the Earth’s magnetic field changed polarity altogether 42,000 years ago. They also pointed out that the consequences for the earth and its people were dramatic!
Magnetic reversal is when the position of the Earth’s magnetic poles is “briefly” reversed before returning to their original positions. Known as the Laschamp Event, the event we are interested in happened about 41,000 years ago and would have lasted about 800 years if the scientists at the University of New South Wales in Australia were to be believed.
What do we know about this period of magnetic reversal?
“The discoveries were made possible by ancient New Zealand kauris that have been kept in sediments for over 40,000 years,” said Chris Turney, earth scientist and co-author of the research. “Using old trees, we were able to measure and date the peak atmospheric radiocarbon levels caused by the collapse of the Earth’s magnetic field. The researchers were also able to determine how terrible this time was for our planet, as well as for all living things that were there at that time.
A real environmental disaster
As you can imagine, such an event was not without consequences for our dear planet: the magnetic field weakened, which led to real environmental disasters. Indeed, by studying the rings of ancient New Zealand kauris, researchers have uncovered traces of centuries of chaos for the earth and its people. In particular, we can quote atmospheric ozone that has been severely disturbed, with the appearance of electric storms and spectacular aurors, and without forgetting about climate change.
Using a 42,000-year-old tree, scientists have pieced together a moment in Earth’s history when the magnetic field and climate got mixed up, possibly triggering a series of extinctions. “It was just an extraordinary revelation,” said one researcher. Https://t.co/ZbtPzoUCjl
– NYT Science (@NYTScience) February 21, 2021
Chris Turney explains, “Unfiltered radiation from space tore up air particles in the earth’s atmosphere, separating electrons and emitting light – a process known as ionization. […] The ionized air “fried” the ozone layer and triggered a global wave of climate change. And all of this, of course, led to mass extinction. The phenomenon could even be responsible for changes in human behavior!
The disappearance of the Neanderthals?
During this difficult time, humans would also have been badly affected, especially the Neanderthals. While there are (rightly) many doubts about its disappearance … doubts that Alan Cooper’s study hopes to fulfill by labeling terrestrial climate cooling as responsible.
Our ancestors would have found it difficult to survive without food and shelter … On the contrary, Homo Sapiens would have done better, thanks in particular to their intelligence and adaptability, by simply taking shelter in caves. This would also explain the discovery of cave paintings from the same period … CQFD!
Homo Sapiens would have done better in the game, especially thanks to their intelligence and ability to adapt. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff
An event that will return soon …?
Currently, at a time when the climate and the environment have become a global problem, Chris Turney and his colleagues fear that there could be another shift in the polarity of the Earth’s magnetic field. Indeed, they argue that there is ample evidence that we may be close to another such disaster. And that’s not good at all.
“Our atmosphere is already filled with carbon in a way that mankind has never seen before. A reversal of the magnetic poles or an extreme change in solar activity would accelerate an unprecedented climate change. […] We urgently need to reduce carbon emissions before such a random event occurs again. It remains to be seen whether states, governments and other officials are sensitive to this warning.