Looming Consequences of The South Atlantic Magnetic Field Anomaly

June 16, 2020

Scientists have resorted to data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm constellation to probe the disturbing weakening of Earth’s magnetic field in the area known as the “South Atlantic Anomaly”.

Jurgen Matzka, from the German Research Centre for Geosciences, and a team of experts from the Swarm Data, Innovation and Science Cluster (DISC) have been using data from ESA’s Swarm satellite constellation to identify and measure the different magnetic signals that comprise Earth’s magnetic field.

“The new, eastern minimum of the South Atlantic Anomaly has appeared over the last decade and in recent years is developing vigorously. We are very lucky to have the Swarm satellites in orbit to investigate the development of the South Atlantic Anomaly. The challenge now is to understand the processes in Earth’s core driving these changes,” said Matzka.

Earth’s Protective Veil

The dynamic force of Earth’s magnetic field protects our planet from streams of cosmic radiation and charged particles, often called the solar wind, streaming from the Sun.

The veil of this field extends for tens of thousands of kilometres into space and is vital for the flourishing of life on Earth.

It is largely generated by a hot, swirling liquid iron that makes up the outer core around 3000 km beneath the surface of the planet, creating electrical currents, which generate the continuously changing electromagnetic field.

However, recent studies have determined that the position of the north magnetic pole is changing rapidly.

Scientists claim that over the last 200 years, the magnetic field has lost around 9 percent of its strength globally, with a specific area of reduced magnetic intensity stretching between Africa and South America. The region was dubbed the “South Atlantic Anomaly”, and probing it has become a challenge for science.

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