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Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in TellMeWhy |

What Are the Earth’s Magnetic Poles?

What Are the Earth’s Magnetic Poles?

What Are the Earth’s Magnetic Poles? The Earth’s magnetic poles are the points where the magnetic field lines begin and end. Field lines converge or come together at the poles. Those poles are places where our planets field lines come together. You have probably heard of the poles of the Earth.

The earth has north and south magnetic poles in addition to north and south geographic poles. We call those poles north and south because that’s where they’re located on Earth. All magnetic objects have field lines and poles. It can be as small as an atom or as large as a star.

The earth behaves as though it had a giant bar magnet inside, running north and south. At the ends of this natural magnet are the magnetic poles. The north magnetic pole is the northern point to which the needle on your magnetic compass points.

But the north magnetic pole is about 1,000 miles (1,600 km.) from the actual North Pole. Because of this difference, magnetic compasses do not point straight to the North Pole, but to a spot in northern Canada.

What happens if the Poles Flip? This is what has happened when the magnetic poles flipped in the past. This could weaken Earth’s protective magnetic field by up to 90% during a polar flip. Earth’s magnetic field is what shields us from harmful space radiation which can damage cells, cause cancer, and fry electronic circuits and electrical grids.

How long will it take to flip the poles? Around 7000 years. Other sources estimate that the time that it takes for a reversal to complete is on average around 7000 years for the four most recent reversals. Clement (2004) suggests that this duration is dependent on latitude, with shorter duration’s at low latitudes, and longer duration’s at mid and high latitudes.

Content for this question contributed by Christine Silvia, resident of Guilderland, New York, USA