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South Atlantic Anomaly Weakening The Earth’s Magnetic Field Can Be Seen Expanding Further

According to ESA, the Earth's magnetic field is further weakening and the weak spot is further expanding. Read on to know more details about the same.

| Written By
Anushka Pathania
earth's magnetic field

The news about the weakening of the magnetic field of the Earth losing its strength has been making headlines from quite some time now. It has been further reported that the weak spot of the magnetic field is expanding further and hence is making the magnetic field weaker. The studies that have been going on by European Space Agency has reportedly said that the Earth’s core has been found to determine what happens to its magnetic field. 

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The weak spot in Earth's magnetic field is further expanding 

According to reports from the European Space Agency, from the past 200 years, the entire global magnetic field has lost around 9% of its strength. Moreover, since the year 1970, the South Atlantic Anomaly has weakened by 8%. Further studies are going on and ESA researchers used a set of three satellites which were collectively called Swarm.

For the unversed, the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) is regarded as an area where the Earth's inner Van Allen radiation belt ( it is a zone of energetic charged particles) comes closest to the Earth's surface. The SAA area dips down to an altitude of 200 kilometres (120 mi). This further leads to an escalated flux of energetic particles in the region and exposes orbiting satellites to higher-than-usual levels of radiation.

When a weak spot in the magnetic field expands, it means that instead of repelling energetic particles, in that spot, the energetic particles are ushered. This, in turn, weakens the entire magnetic field. 

An animated video has been doing the rounds on the internet which shows the anomaly from April 2014 to August 2019. The white dots on the maps are used to indicate instances in which the satellites that detect radiation. One can see their frequency increase over a period of time.

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Although it has not been found out that what prompted the anomaly to cleave in two, Jurgen Matzka, from the German research centre for Geosciences, and his colleagues are unable to figure it out and their models cannot account for the bifurcation. Matzka told a media portal that the challenge now is to understand the processes in the core of the Earth that is driving these changes.

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Credits: tto_quantum_gravity

As reported by a media portal, the Earth’s magnetic field exists in swirling liquid iron in the planet’s outer core. It exists around 1,800 miles beneath the surface of the Earth. The magnetic field is anchored by the north and the south poles, the field increases and decreases in strength undulating based on what is going on in the core of the planet. Periodic and random changes in the distribution of the turbulent liquid metal are likely to cause idiosyncrasies in the magnetic field.


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It has been reported by ESA that in the last five decades, the South Atlantic Anomaly has moved at a rate of roughly 12 miles per year. It has also been reported by a media portal that a growing weak spot is bad news for satellites and spacecraft. The ESA reported to a media portal that the satellites flying through the region are more likely to experience technical malfunctions like a brief computer glitch that can disrupt communications.

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Image Credits: ESA