42,000 years ago
triggered climate catastrophes
and mass extinctions.
Can the field flip again?
This lead to environmental cataclysms and mass extinctions, including the demise of the Neanderthals. The dramatic period was a turning point in Earth's history, claim the scientists, full of resplendent auroras, electrical storms, and strong cosmic radiation.
These changes were caused
reversal of the planet's magnetic poles and variations in
...called this period the 'Adams Transitional Geomagnetic Event' or simply "Adams Event."
The Adams they are referring to is the science fiction writer Douglas Adams, who famously wrote in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" that 42 was the answer to,
Chris Turney, a professor at UNSW Sydney and co-leader of the study, remarked that their study was the first,
Interestingly, their discovery was aided by ancient New Zealand kauri trees, which have been sitting preserved in sediments for more than 40,000 years.
What the trees helped the scientists understand were the effects of the magnetic pole switch, which was already known as,
Using radiocarbon dating to analyze the kauri tree rings, they could gauge how the planet's atmosphere changed.
Using the trees, the researchers were able to create global climate models that showed how the growth of ice sheets and glaciers across North America, differences in wind belts and tropical systems, and even the extinction of Neanderthals could all be linked to the climate changes brought on by the Adams Event.
According to the researchers, another fascinating consequence of the Adams Event is that early humans would have been both inspired and terrified by the amazing auroras seen in the sky, brought on by the magnetic field fluctuations.
He also supposes that the
calamities would have forced our ancestors into the caves, leading
to the amazing cave art that came about approximately 42,000 years
Professor Cooper thinks there are some indications like the weakening of the field by 9 percent over the past 170 years that tells us a reversal may be coming.
Read out the study (A Global Environmental Crisis 42,000 years Ago) published in Science...