Monday, June 14, 2021

Physicists Explain Why Changes to Earth’s Magnetic Field Are Weaker Over the Pacific

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A new study by University of Alberta physicists provides an explanation for why changes to Earth’s magnetic field over time are weaker over the Pacific region — a mystery scientists have been trying to solve for nearly a century. “This is something that has been a puzzle since the 1930s when it was first noticed,” said geophysicist Mathieu Dumberry, lead author of the study.

U of A geophysicist Mathieu Dumberry led a new study that may explain why changes to Earth’s protective magnetic field are weaker over the Pacific—a puzzling phenomenon scientists have been trying to figure out since first observing it in the 1930s. (Image: John Ulan)
U of A geophysicist Mathieu Dumberry led a new study that may explain why changes to Earth’s protective magnetic field are weaker over the Pacific — a puzzling phenomenon scientists have been trying to figure out since first observing it in the 1930s. (Image: John Ulan)

Like winds in the atmosphere or currents in the ocean, there are fluid motions in the liquid core of the Earth, Dumberry explained. These core flows generate and maintain the Earth’s magnetic field, which gives us the Northern Lights and shields us from charged particles from space. Scientists model the magnetic field for a variety of applications, including determining your orientation when you look at a map on your smartphone. Dumberry said:

Looking at the field can also give new insight into the core flows that create it. Dumberry said:

Dumberry noted the model poses new questions about the makeup of the core-mantle boundary region and what it can tell us about other regions on Earth, adding:

The study, Weak Magnetic Field Changes Over the Pacific Due to High Conductance in Lowermost Mantlewas published in Nature Geoscience.

Provided by: Andrew Lyle,  [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.
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