Earth’s magnetic fields help sustain life on our planet, but they can also be a driver of climate change and a reason why some species have become extinct.
This is a bold claim made in Scientific work published in the journal Science this week.
A journal article claims that atmospheric changes more than 40,000 years ago had such a radical impact on the planet that they caused significant damage to the environment and even extinction.
Protecting the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation, the planet’s magnetic fields play a vital role in preserving life, but they differ in strength with magnetic poles that sometimes change position.
This phenomenon, critics in the paper’s claims, it says it has never before been finally linked to extinction events or major environmental disasters in Earth’s history.
How did scientists come up with this theory?
The scientists behind the research examined rings of kauri trees, a species native to New Zealand that reaches up to 1,000 years old and whose tree survives for tens of thousands of years in swamps and marshes, as the basis of their theory.
Using carbon dating techniques, they discovered that the trees they examined were more than 40,000 years old, which would mean that they grow during the time known as “Laschamp’s trip”.
The latter was an event in which the Earth’s magnetic fields weakened considerably. Studies of tree samples showed a carbon-14 piston in the tree rings, suggesting that the Earth was exposed to high levels of cosmic particles and radiation from space.
The team estimates that these particles contributed to the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer, which in turn triggered changes in the global climate and environmental changes.
Some critics are skeptical
While critics suggest the research opens up some interesting ways to research, they say researchers exaggerate in their conclusions.
In particular, their linking climate change to other events happening at the same time, such as the extinction of Neanderthals and the advancement of sophisticated styles of cave painting.
As for the researchers – they claim that the early people took refuge in caves due to increased radiation and using ocher, the basic material used in cave painting, as the basic means of sunbathing. But others point out that they are known to have lived in caves and used earth pigment for artistic purposes tens of thousands of years before ‘Laschamp’s trip’.
Do magnetic fields contribute to drastic changes in the world’s climate? Although the research published by Science has merit, critics conclude, it seems that the jury is not in the wider scientific community.
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