General Question

cheebdragon's avatar

What do you think will happen when the poles reverse in 2012?

Asked by cheebdragon (18830points) April 14th, 2008 from iPhone

When the north and south poles reverse, how much will it effect us?

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26 Answers

Hollister0221's avatar

the end of the world as we know it

cwilbur's avatar

Absolutely nothing, because the poles won’t reverse.

(Although it makes for entertaining wingnuts on late-night radio.)

Kiwano's avatar

will be a magnetic pole reversal…. Sattelites and communication will go haywire… Its not a physical shift..

soundedfury's avatar

It’s not going to happen in 2012. A pole reversal takes upwards of 10,000 years or more, starting with a 10% or more drop in polarity. At that point, it’s a slow process and not an instant pole shift.

It’d too subtle to detect on a yearly basis. We need more data than we have to determine whether we’re in a pole shift right now. Plus, they aren’t periodic and they aren’t predictable. They just happen. Slowly.

Only people who have a terrible understanding of the Earth’s magnetic field would claim that we’d see an instantaneous pole shift in a few years.

Hollister0221's avatar

its happen before I’m sure it will happen again

soundedfury's avatar

It will certainly happen again, it just takes longer than recorded human history to complete. No one can predict when it will happen, either.

peedub's avatar

Van Halen will reunite.

Alina1235's avatar

I’m currently doing a research on December 21, 2012 for our may sweeps story. I’m pretty much obsessed with it. I’ll get on the computer to talk about it. Too much to type on iPhone

soundedfury's avatar

This isn’t going to be more hocus pocus about the end of the Mayan Long Count, is it?

peedub's avatar

My girl scout compass will have expired.

Alina1235's avatar

yeah…. The mayans too, the axis of evil…..

joeysefika's avatar

as you said @soundedfury, the limited knowledge of human activities before 2000 years ago effects what we know on the subject. However when you said that it takes a gradual amount of time to do this not just like the ‘click’ of my fingers scientists have shown that the poles are gradually shifting and 2012 is there estimated switcharoo time, although knowing modern science they could be off by hundreds of years.

soundedfury's avatar

That’s not what I said at all.

We have millions of years of data about the history of the geomagnetic field around the earth. We know how long each period has lasted and which direction the polarity occurred. We have a nearly complete picture of the history of our magnetic poles. What we don’t have is any ability to predict when the next switch will occur. Why? Because they are more or less random (although there was a recent study that suggests that’s not true).

It’s also incredibly clear that we’re not anywhere near a switch right now. If we were to experience a switch in 2012, the poles right now would be incredibly weak. We’d see tens of “mini-poles” sprouting all over the world. Yet, our magnetosphere is still oriented the same as it has been for the past 780,000 years.

Yes, it’s getting weaker, but the models show that if this same rate continues we’re not expected to see a pole collapse until 3200–4000 A.D. We have some cool anomalies because of it, like the South Atlantic Anomaly. But to say they “switch” is to fundamentally misinterpret how the changes occur.

Pole reversal doesn’t happen like turning a switch on or off. We’d experience a period in which we’d have no true poles. We’d have a wild and unpredictable geomagnetic system that would slowly become more and more ordered.

We’d have mass panic right now if the scientific establishment honestly believed the poles are switching in 2012. It would make Y2K look like a tea party. A pole switch would cause every electronic and digital piece of equipment fail, electricity grids to shutdown and satellites to come crashing down. It would be a huge deal, you’d see the entire world unite behind getting ready for the change.

JMCSD's avatar

sounds like a good thing

paulc's avatar

I’ll probably paint an S over the N and an N over the S on my Cap’n Crunch Compass.

Seriously though, soudedfury is right. The Earth’s magnetism is reliant on the overall magnetic domain of the molten metals in the core. These can shift, just as any liquid but because of the extremely immense scale of it it doesn’t just flip on and off. There would be a long period where the magnetic field would be significantly weaker because of the lack of uniform orientation. That would really suck for those of us who live more north or south on the globe: no more Aurora Borealis/Australis or at least much weaker light shows.

soundedfury's avatar

If you want to have fun, the sun’s poles will shift in 2012. They do it every 11 years. It’s going to be more fun this time, though, due to unusual alignment of Jupiter and Saturn the gravitational effects on the switch may be unpredictable. We’re likely to get a lot more solar flare activity than usual, which will disrupt satellites and likely fry a few power grids like it did in 1989.

Babo's avatar

Will North Dakota and South Dakota have to switch names?

gooch's avatar

It will not happen then. It will be many more years yet. If it would happen the world as you know it would be over. A new world would evolve.

AstroChuck's avatar

@soubdedfury & paulc-
There are geologists who would disagree about the time frane that you describe. I’ve read two differing accounts, one that claims the last switch occurred about 40,000 years ago. Both that I read stated that the shift in polarity started and finished within six months time. Sorry that I don’t have a link for these papers. It’s been some time since I’ve read them. Now, whether they are right or not… no idea.
Why 2012? Is this more of that Mayan calendar/Nostadomus bullshit?

Act1v8's avatar

People will be confused about where Antarctica and the Arctic is. Later that day the north pole would obviously be renamed into the south pole and the south pole will be named north. A couple of years after it, people won’t still adapt to where the new poles are.

Pigeons and dolphins won’t differentiate between north and south, with my prognosis that many of them (the birds) will die in the late-autumn times when they’ll be flying “south” (north) to the hot parts of the planet, thereby freezing in their hot climate. :)

But I don’t think it’ll happen in 2012. It’s too early, and they happen in about ten thousand years, and slowly! :)

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Elvis will come back from Indonesia and Jim Morrison will crawl out of his grave in Paris, and the two of them will travel the world, doing a tour of all the great cities. Of course, the only band members they will be able to afford will be that famous group that plays bassoons, a harpsichord and bagpipes, the name of which escapes me at the moment.

ashley42567's avatar

i think this is infact going to happen and i think there would be change like in the movie , because when the poles reverse then that will have effect on the ocean and that will cause earthquakes in the ocean also it will cause volcaneos to errupt.

ashley,12 years of age

Nullo's avatar

The poles aren’t due to reverse for a few millennia more. There’s a process, see: first the magnetic field will weaken dramatically, almost to the point of nonexistence. Then, they say, it’ll flip/

ragingloli's avatar

this is relevant.

AstroChuck's avatar

@ragingloli- Interesting, but technically leap year is not every four years.

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