New data reveals Earth's magnetic field continues to weaken
Thursday, June 19, 2014, 6:14 - Data from the European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed that our planet's magnetic field is continuing to weaken.
Measurements made over the past six months by satellites owned by the ESA have confirmed a "general trend" that the field is losing strength with the most "dramatic declines" over the Western Hemisphere.
But the weakening doesn't appear to be happening across the board. Some areas, like the southern Indian Ocean, have seen the field strengthen since the start of this year.
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According to ESA, the data will provide fresh insight into natural processes that occur deep within -- and around -- our planet.
It's hoped they will lead to a better understanding of why the magnetic field is weakening.
According to NASA, long-term observations suggest the Earth's magnetic field is decreasing at a rate of about 0.07 percent per year.
"This means that in 1500 years from now, it will only be about 35 percent as strong as it is today, and in 4000 years it will have a strength of practically zero," the space agency says.
"Because the magnetic field is a critical buffer shielding the biosphere from cosmic rays and charged particles from the Sun, the health hazard posed by the Earth loosing its magnetic field is hard to comprehend."