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Journal Article

Earth’s magnetic field is probably not reversing


Holme,  Richard
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Brown, M., Korte, M., Holme, R., Wardinski, I., & Gunnarson, a. S. (2018). Earth’s magnetic field is probably not reversing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(20), 5111-5116. doi:10.1073/pnas.1722110115.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-5044-6
The geomagnetic field has been decaying at a rate of ∼5% per century from at least 1840, with indirect observations suggesting a decay since 1600 or even earlier. This has led to the assertion that the geomagnetic field may be undergoing a reversal or an excursion. We have derived a model of the geomagnetic field spanning 30–50 ka, constructed to study the behavior of the two most recent excursions: the Laschamp and Mono Lake, centered at 41 and 34 ka, respectively. Here, we show that neither excursion demonstrates field evolution similar to current changes in the geomagnetic field. At earlier times, centered at 49 and 46 ka, the field is comparable to today’s field, with an intensity structure similar to today’s South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA); however, neither of these SAA-like fields develop into an excursion or reversal. This suggests that the current weakened field will also recover without an extreme event such as an excursion or reversal. The SAA-like field structure at 46 ka appears to be coeval with published increases in geomagnetically modulated beryllium and chlorine nuclide production, despite the global dipole field not weakening significantly in our model during this time. This agreement suggests a greater complexity in the relationship between cosmogenic nuclide production and the geomagnetic field than is commonly assumed.