When Earth’s Magnetic Field Flips, It Could Take Thousands of Years

Posted on Categories Discover Magazine

A computer model of Earth’s magnetic field. (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy)

North, I was once surprised to learn, is not always north. There’s geographic north, “up” on maps toward the North Pole, and then there’s magnetic north, which is where compass needles point. Right now the two kind of line up, but that isn’t always the case. Earth’s magnetic field — which guides compasses, animals and auroras — likes to wander, and it’s reversed entirely in the past: Magnetic north was in the geo

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