What will happen? What causes this?
Causes and effects
True polar wander can be caused by several mechanisms of redistributing mass and changing the moment of inertia tensor of the Earth:
- Glacial cycles: redistribution of ice and water masses, and resultant deformation of the crust, changes the mass distribution around the Earth.
- Perturbations of the topography of the core-mantle boundary, perhaps induced by differential core rotation and shift of its axial rotation vector, leading to CMB mass redistributions.
- Mass redistributions in the mantle.
Not long after the first geomagnetic polarity time scales were produced, scientists began exploring the possibility that reversals could be linked to extinctions. Most such proposals rest on the assumption that the Earth’s field has much lower intensity during reversals. Possibly the first such hypothesis was that high energy particles trapped in the Van Allen radiation belt could be liberated and bombard the Earth.
Detailed calculations confirm that, if the Earth’s dipole field disappeared entirely (leaving the quadrupole and higher components), most of the atmosphere could be reached by high energy particles. However, the atmosphere would stop them. Instead there would be secondary radiation of 10 Be or 36 Cl from collisions of cosmic rays with the atmosphere. There is evidence that this occurs both during secular variationand during reversals.
Another hypothesis by McCormac and Evans assumes that the Earth’s field would disappear entirely during reversals.
They argue that the atmosphere of Mars may have been eroded away by the solar wind because it had no magnetic field to protect it. They predict that ions would be stripped away from Earth’s atmosphere above 100 km. However, the evidence from paleointensity measurements is that the magnetic field does not disappear. Based on paleointensity data for the last 800,000 years, the magnetopause is still estimated to be at about 3 Earth radii during the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal.
Tests of correlations between extinctions and reversals are difficult for a number of reasons. Larger animals are too scarce in the fossil record for good statistics, so paleontologists have analyzed microfossil extinctions. Even microfossil data can be unreliable if there are hiatuses in the fossil record. It can appear that the extinction occurs at the end of a polarity interval when the rest of that polarity interval was simply eroded away.Statistical analysis shows no evidence for a correlation between reversals and extinctions.
Hypotheses have also been advanced linking reversals to mass extinctions.
Many such arguments were based on an apparent periodicity in the rate of reversals; more careful analyses show that the reversal record is not periodic.
It may be, however, that the ends of superchrons have caused vigorous convection leading to widespread volcanism, and that the subsequent airborne ash caused extinctions.
This all comes from studying past geologic records and fossil remains. How a subtle change will effect the environment and the planet is, at this moment, a best guess of anyone.