Friday, December 9, 2005

Earth's Magnetic Pole Drifting Quickly - Yahoo! News

There's a story that's been cycling through the new age community for years. It's about the pole shift phenomena and how our planet is apparently going to do it again. The story is this is predicted by ancient prophecies and there will be a wide variety of effects (depending on who's telling the story) all related to apocolyptical stories like the Book of Revelation.

The indicator being pointed to is the weakening of the earths magnetic field. One side effect of a weakening magnetic field is this:

Earth's Magnetic Pole Drifting Quickly (By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer Thu Dec 8, 7:36 PM ET )

SAN FRANCISCO - Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America and toward Siberia at such a clip that Alaska might lose its spectacular Northern Lights in the next 50 years, scientists said Thursday.

Despite accelerated movement over the past century, the possibility that Earth's modestly fading magnetic field will collapse is remote. But the shift could mean Alaska may no longer see the sky lights known as auroras, which might then be more visible in more southerly areas of Siberia and Europe.

The magnetic poles are part of the magnetic field generated by liquid iron in Earth's core and are different from the geographic poles, the surface points marking the axis of the planet's rotation.

A change that might take 50 years to unfold is a lot more rapid than the new age teachers have been claiming. They say the deadline is the year 2012 or so (e.g. the Mayan calendar "ends" that year) which is a lot sooner than 50 years.

Still the article does imply a possibility the poles could well swap places in the next 50 years. It's not known what the effects are to life on the planet when the poles swap places.

It's going to be interesting to see what really happens. Maybe it's as innocent as the scientists are making it seem. But I think the scientists don't have enough data to really know what's going on, because the trends they're observing could well be ones that play out over thousands of years.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Greenland glacier races to ocean

The glaciers in greenland are melting at an alarmingly high rate: Greenland glacier races to ocean (By Jonathan Amos, BBC News science reporter, San Francisco)

The story the article presents is about measurements of the melting rate of glaciers in Greenland. They're melting very rapidly, with the Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier retreating 5 kilometers up its fjord just this year.

"We've seen a 5km retreat of the terminus, we've see an almost 300% acceleration in the flow speed and we've seen about a 100m thinning of the glacier - all occurring in the last one or so years," said Dr Gordon Hamilton, of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine.

"These are very dramatic changes." And they are not confined to Kangerdlugssuaq.

A couple weeks ago I flew over Greenland and was able to see a little bit of the place. I was in a 747 flying from London to Seattle, and only had a few moments as I got up to go to the bathroom. It looked very ice covered just about what I'd expect, and what they're talking about are measurements made over long periods of time.

Elsewhere I've seen discussion that as the ice covered areas in the north melt, it's going to expose more of the underlying rock. As it's exposed it's going to hold heat longer into the year, and lead to an accelerated warming. If that model is true we could see quick change of the arctic from ice covered to being seasonally covered with ice.

And, of course, one wonders what will happen to that ice as it melts. The story is it will go into the ocean, raising ocean levels. Seeing as I live at sea level perhaps I ought to consider moving?