Fine Structure

Earth's Magnetic Poles Slowly Moving

According to National Geographic, Earth's magnetic poles are moving towards Russia at almost 40 miles per year. This is only the most recent and fastest movement since the early 1900s when we started measuring pole movement (at that point it was well within canada). While the poles are moving faster than we've ever seen, it's a natural phenomenon for the poles to move around and nothing specific about the movement points to a reversal.

Unfortunately, Gizmodo's take on the story adds doom and gloom. Apparently this wandering pole means that there is "surely" a pole shift about to happen and a pole shift "could" lead to a period with no magnetic field what so ever and we would all, of course, be fried by space radiation.

NASA, as always, has the correct information. On a page posted almost exactly six years ago today, NASA debunks some of the myths surrounding pole movement and what would happen in a potential shift (which has occurred in the past, with no great extinctions). Firstly, Earth's magnetic field is not a static feature, it should be expected to move. It's caused by the swirling molten core of the Earth and unless the core were to stop rotating and cool down (something that's probably not even possible), we'd still have a magnetic field around the Earth. Predictions about the field shape during a pole reversal do not predict a complete loss of magnetic field, only a more complex shape until the poles realign.

Let's face it, magnetic movement/reversal is about as likely to cause a total loss of magnetic field as it is to create a time-shifting island that has a smoke monster (a la LOST). ]