New satellite data from the European Space Agency (ESA) shows that a mysterious magnetic anomaly over South America continues to develop. And the most recent observations indicate that we may soon face a split. Science Alert reports this.
The South Atlantic anomaly or Brazilian magnetic anomaly is a vast area of low magnetic intensity extending from South America to South-West Africa.
Since our planet’s magnetic field acts as a kind of shield protecting the Earth from solar winds and cosmic radiation, any decrease in its strength is an important event that scientists should carefully monitor, since these changes could eventually have significant consequences for our planet.
But for now, according to the researchers, we have nothing to worry about. The ESA notes that the biggest is technical failures on Board satellites and spacecraft as they cross the South Atlantic anomaly, due to exposure to large amounts of electrically charged particles from space.
However, according to researchers, over the past two centuries, the Earth’s magnetic field has lost on average about 9% of its strength, which was facilitated by a decrease in the minimum field strength in the South Atlantic anomaly — from about 24 thousand to 22 thousand nanoteslas over the past 50 years.
Why this happens remains a mystery. Research has shown that the Earth’s magnetic field is always in motion, and periodically the North and South magnetic poles change places.
But it is not yet clear how these changes may be related to what is currently happening with the South Atlantic anomaly. What is known for sure is that the magnetic anomaly does not stand still? Since 1970, it has been increasing in size and is also moving West at a speed of about 20 kilometers per year.
Moreover, new readings from ESA satellites show that the second center of minimal intensity has begun to open in the anomaly over the past five years. This may indicate the process of dividing the defect into two separate areas — with one center above the middle of South America, and the other, off the coast of South-West Africa.
How this will end, and how it will affect the life of humanity, is still unclear, but scientists will closely monitor these changes.