Submitted by Gopokes91 t3_11dl8mt in Futurology

I’ve heard a lot about it but don’t have a complete understanding of it. All I know is that it’s bad news for us when it happens and apparently we are in the midst of one. So what are some possible catastrophes that might come of a pole shift? Is there any way humanity can prepare/adapt to the changes if it does happen?



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enderverse87 t1_ja9bre6 wrote

We don't really know since it's never happened yet since we invented electricity.

It's most likely not going to be that big a deal.

Maybe shut down flights for a few days/weeks? Maybe some minor temporary issues with satellites.

The next big solar flare, now that's going to cause some problems. The one in 1859 would shut down half the globe if it happened now.


Amazing-Ad-669 t1_ja9dnrh wrote

It's happened 183 times throughout geologic history I believe. And yes, not in recent history. Every 300,000 years or so?


therealnai249 t1_ja9s7i4 wrote

Well 183 times that we have evidence for in the last 83 my, oceanic crust doesn’t last long so we really don’t know how many times in total.


grumblecakes1 t1_jaahpfz wrote

It has irregular intervals too. without looking it up i believe there is a few times where it flipped several times in just a few thousand years.


TurtleneckTrump t1_ja9tfot wrote

Umm.. any solar flare while the earths magnetic is pratically gone during the swap is going cause a shitload of problems


enderverse87 t1_jaa0vrq wrote

We don't actually know that it disappears during the shift. That's just an old speculation that doesn't actually have any evidence in the fossil records.


TurtleneckTrump t1_jaa66o8 wrote

A speculation that is based on magnetic flux calculations. The field WILL weaken a lot, the question is how well it can still protect us


Courtside237 t1_ja9dqfx wrote

Every car on the road automatically switches to reverse. Every plane in the sky turns upside down. People will begin wearing shoes on their hands and going in through the “out” door


JTMissileTits t1_ja9h0af wrote

Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria! - Dr. Venkman


diamond t1_jaagk9d wrote

Will my underwear spontaneously turn inside out? That would be really embarrassing, and I would like to be prepared.


bucer91 t1_ja9xh2z wrote

In through the “out” door, you say? Watch your shoes, people, It’s already started!


vwb2022 t1_ja9b4lv wrote

The only thing that is affected is that the magnetic North and geographic North will not align anymore, so a magnetic compass will not be as useful anymore, as direction of the North will depend on geographic location. There is no effect on the Earth rotation or any other physical effects.

I don't think there will be serious day-to-day effects, most navigational systems use some version of GPS, which aligns through satellites rather than magnetic compass. Weakening of the magnetic field itself may be harmful as it protects the surface of the Earth from charged particles coming from the Sun, such as those created by solar eruptions. These can sometimes disrupt electrical systems on the surface, but their magnitude is rarely sufficient to cause real concern.


kompootor t1_ja9i073 wrote

It should also be noted that time during which a geomagnetic reversal takes place is by any estimates 2k--12k years. So even if we're headlong into it, Comparatively, magnetic North's speedy yearly drifting would overshadow any observation of an overall movement of the poles to flip (if the pole's wobbles were a consistent-direction drift then it would be in the Antarctic within 400 years.) And because airport runways are numbered according to their magnetic compass direction (instead of true), the wobbly North pole means regular runway repainting, costing the aviation industry upwards of tens of dollars per year!


EmeraldAlicorn t1_ja9sjyz wrote

CGP grey has an amazing video on all of this that might be helpful for OP. I it's called "the simple secret of runway digits"


Spiderbanana t1_ja9xng4 wrote

Tens of dollars a year? Damn they'll surely go bankrupt soon


aspheric_cow t1_ja9khrf wrote

> most navigational systems use some version of GPS, which aligns through satellites rather than magnetic compass

Actually no, compass and GPS can't substitute for one another. GPS tells you your location, but not your orientation. If you are standing still, GPS won't tell you which direction you are facing (or which way the front of your vehicle is pointing), but a compass can.

If you are moving, GPS can tell you which direction you are moving, but on ships, airplanes and spacecraft, the direction you are moving is not necessarily the direction your vehicle is pointing. So you still need a compass. A gyroscope also works for this, but gyroscopes drift over time, so a magnetic compass is a more accurate long-term reference.

Spacecraft often use star trackers or sun sensors for determining the orientation (attitude), but some do use magnetic sensors. And also, most satellites rely on magnetic torquers to change their attitude. Reaction wheels (aka flywheels or gyroscopes) are also used, but they eventually saturate (moving as fast as they can) and eventually they need to offload the angular momentum to something external. That something is usually a magnetic torquer, which is an electromagnet that basically pushes against the Earth's magnetic field to rotate the spacecraft. Thrusters also work for this purpose, magnetic torquers are far simpler and cheaper, so most satellites in low orbit just has magnetic torquers, not thrusters.


vwb2022 t1_ja9ljuv wrote

Yes, modern devices use a magnetometer to determine the direction of the North. But with a GPS you know your location relative to the magnetic pole and you can determine your direction of travel using the magnetometer and software to correct the magnetic pole drift. So GPS can tell tell you your direction of travel, albeit indirectly by correcting for your position relative to the drifting magnetic pole.


Artanthos t1_jaa0xo2 wrote

Airplanes use several different systems.

Yes, they do use gyroscopes, and they do get periodically recalibrated.

Doppler radar is another system. On airport approaches you have TACAN.

All of these systems allow the pilot to make course corrections.


LoveandRice t1_jaakohs wrote

They do but as an air traffic controller in busy approach airspace, I will say that 70% of our instructions are headings. That would really mess up my job


Artanthos t1_jaazdsk wrote

All my experience is on the other end.

I was an aviation electronics technician. I worked on the hardware.


Think_Job6456 t1_jaaeu81 wrote

Is there potential for disaster involving magnets? I’m not sure to what extent they are used, if at all, in modern devices.


aspheric_cow t1_jaesip2 wrote

No, the Earth's magnetic field is too weak to affect the operation of devices that use magnetic forces. If it disappears or reverses, things will work fine.


Strength-InThe-Loins t1_jaan9up wrote

Magnetic north and geographic north already don't align. That's the first thing they teach you in compass class.


Tim_the_geek t1_ja9ghvr wrote

I respectfully disagree with one of your points. You say there will be no effect on the Earth's rotation if the magnetic pole shifts. I feel that there is quite a bit of "new magnetic" material on earth that was created during the current pole locations. These magnetic rocks in the crust have a polarity, when the core's magnetic field changes, I feel that the portions of the crust that have magnetic material in them will seek to realign with the NEW N-S orientation causing the earth's crust (or sections) to move.


AnarchistAccipiter t1_ja9h6qw wrote


The magnetic poles wander all the time, no parts of the earth's crust are affected.


capt_yellowbeard t1_ja9jwg1 wrote

Succinct and well stated.

I’ll add that there is clear alignment “striping” of magnetic particles on the ocean floor. So by drilling different parts of the sea floor one can see which direction north and south were when the magma that makes up the sea floor was deposited. Once it solidifies, however, no further change occurs.


supersonicpotat0 t1_ja9ksfm wrote

There is a easy way to test for this. Set a magnet on your desk. Now, rotate it 180 degrees, and set it down again.

Does the magnet suddenly snap back to its original position, or otherwise slide over your desk in search of magnetic north? You are probably (correctly) thinking this is a ridiculous experiment. It's obvious that earth's magnetic field is not strong enough to do stuff like that.

So, if the earth's magnetic field is too weak to even move a unsecured magnet that probably only weighs a few grams, you're expecting it to affect a billion tons of rock in the form of continental plates?

You can even see a complete absence of effect ib the exact same rocks you are referencing. These rocks provide evidence of past pole reversals, because different layers have different alignments.

If the polarized rock moved into alignment when the fields shifted, new layers would always be deposited with the same alignment as the old ones. The only reason these rocks are even referenced in the same breath as pole realignments is because this doesn't happen, and cannot happen.

Finally, to see how magnetic the average rock is, obtain a compass, a magnet, and a piece of gravel. Gravel is made exclusively from the least valuable (e.g. Most common) form of rock readily available, so it is a good stand in for the average composition of the earth's crust.

Find the furthest distance you can that leads the compass to point towards the magnet, rather than magnetic north. If the compass is pointing at the magnet, this means it's feild is dominating over the earth's field at that distance. Replace the compass with gravel. Does the gravel slide towards the magnet at this distance? If not, this shows that the magnetic minerals in the rock are insufficient to move it, despite being in the presence of a local magnetic field strong enough to dominate over the earth's natural field (as shown by the compass)

We routinely experience magnetic fields thousands of times stronger than the earth's own, and nothing tends to happen. The same is true of most rocks.


Eidalac t1_jaakt3h wrote

There would need to be a critical mass of highly magnetic material in the crust, and it would have to be highly polarized and the flip would have to happen extremely fast to have any impact on the crust at scale.

Most highly magnetic material is in the core (iron) while the crust is mostly silicates which don't care about the field all that much.

The stuff that is magnetic wouldn't be polarized enough to prefer one pole to the other. There would be equal "north" and "south " pull.

Lastly the flip is thought to take around 2-12k years, with the magnetic field flickering and changing over that time


Low-Restaurant3504 t1_ja9tpd8 wrote

That's not how any of that works, at all... like, I don't mean to be rude, but seriously, no. That's an idea even Roland Emmerich would pass on.


peter303_ t1_ja9hqda wrote

Geophysicists measured a magnetic reversal happening 16.7 million years ago through centuries of lava flows. The field doesnt flip suddenly (like every 22 years on the Sun), but weakens and flickers over several centuries before reorganizing in the opposite direction. A magnetic compass would not be useful for navigation during this period.

Computer simulations of the geomagnetic dynamo also sees flickering, both with and without a reversal. Its possible we are merely in a minor flicker now or in the early stages of a full reversal. The intensity of the Earths field is down by 8% since first measurements about 200 years ago. There are claims of a stronger field millennia ago measured in pottery made from high iron clays. They would magnetize slightly after cooling off.


Gopokes91 OP t1_ja9io3j wrote

So if we’re in the early stages then odds are we’ll all be dead before it fully reverses.


TheBertinator3000 t1_ja9hlha wrote

It will have consequences related to the Earth's magnetic field being significantly reduced during the midpoint of the transition.

The process will also probably take 1,000-10,000 years to complete, once it gets started.

There will be consequences, but the risk of you or I having to face any of these consequences, within our lifetimes, is almost nil.


KamikazeKauz t1_jaboxi8 wrote

Ironically, your last sentence summaries the attitude a large part of the world's population had (and many still have) regarding climate change...


TheBertinator3000 t1_jachvxy wrote

Yeah, but this time I'm actually probably right. And this time it's nothing we can affect. Not unless there's some Dr. Evil Doomsday Device I don't know about, doing weird things to the Earth's core.

Humans can do a lot, but modifying the Earth's magnetic field is still currently in the realm of pure science fiction. We can't even drill down to the mantel successfully.


thescrounger t1_ja9eijb wrote

remember Y2K? .... adding letters because comment was deemed too short by bot.


slow2lurn t1_jaad34s wrote

I was 14 during Y2K. That was the first time I heard of "preppers". And they were everywhere. Churches were hosting Y2K events like it was the apocalypse.... Weird times


enderverse87 t1_jaand0m wrote

Y2K only turned out fine because we spent years fixing it ahead of time. If somehow we had totally missed it until it happened it would have been really bad.

We'll probably have a few years notice for this as well, so it will probably also be not a huge deal.


Gopokes91 OP t1_ja9evn6 wrote

Wasn’t Y2K about the A.I take over?


thescrounger t1_ja9gqbt wrote

AI wasn't really a thing then. It was about every computer in the world not working because of the millennium rollover. Turns out that was ... not the case.


trajectoriously t1_ja9krub wrote

It wasn't a thing because many, many programmers spent many, many hours making updates.
The problem was very real, the solution was boring.


IcebergSlimFast t1_ja9ohfj wrote

Can confirm. Spent many, many hours making updates: very real problem, incredibly boring solution.


Gopokes91 OP t1_ja9i2c1 wrote

Ah, that makes more sense. Pardon my ignorance then.


-BroncosForever- t1_jaaeh0z wrote

Shit dude you’re making me feel old.

No one even knew what AI was back then

It was more about every computer malfunctioning at the same time because the coding of the years was only 2 digits so there was no way of logically putting coding in the year 2000 and beyond.

This did cause some glitches and stuff, but nothing crazy, people thought that nukes were going to go off and that airplanes would drop out of the sky and no form of communication.

I’m only 28 though so it’s not like I actually experienced it.


enderverse87 t1_jaanxl6 wrote

It was going to be bad, people tested it by setting the clocks forward on test versions of important systems. But because they tested it, they knew how to fix it to prevent everything from going crazy.


DadSnare t1_jab8qcq wrote

Well, except for the Spielberg movie, A.I., and countless books and tv shows but ok.


Techcat46 t1_ja9b3pc wrote

There are thousands of pole shifts through history and nothing bad happened. I don't think it's something to be really concerned about.


Raynstormm t1_ja9meek wrote

Suspicious0bservers on YouTube will fill you in.

TLDR: the sun periodically micro-novas, the viscosity of the mantle becomes super slippery, and the entire crust rotates 90 degrees then flips back. 1000 mph winds and mountain high ocean waves when this happens.


Amazing-Ad-669 t1_ja9dfqg wrote

I'm not a scientist, but I've read it can be as simple as recalibration of gps instruments to mile-high tidal waves.

In any event, probably won't be alive to see it.


hoovervillain t1_ja9or2k wrote

The migration patterns of birds and some marine life most likely follow magnetic field lines; we're not certain on how (is it field strength, density, orientation, etc). So assuming there are any of these animals left that we haven't poisoned to death, their patterns will change as well, along with the environments where they stop along the way.


Call_of_Tculhu t1_ja9gi15 wrote

The poles reverse every 100 thousand years or so.

The only problem would be that your compass will point south.


jvin248 t1_ja9j24n wrote

Fill a cake pan nearly full with water and slide it sideways across the counter -- observe what happens. That's a pole shift.

Start with these videos and dig in to the other videos in those channels. the The first covers more of the global clues left behind while the second has a better handle on the physics and actual triggers. Every twelve thousand years. There's that Ancient Apocalypse series on Netflix that covers remains of prior events too, although attributing destruction to asteroid impacts.


Intelligent-Shake758 t1_ja9ota9 wrote

magnetism is can manipulate matter....matter is clouds, rain, and anything that has mass. given that point, a shift in the magnetic pole will have some reaction, probably affecting weather...the Tonga Tonga earthquake shifted the earth's axis...there are so many dynamic occurrences we'll just have to wait and see what happens. right now, the sun is going nuts and throwing solar flares toward the earth." " NASA scientists using data from the Indonesian earthquake calculated it affected Earth's rotation, decreased the length of the day, slightly changed the planet's shape, and shifted the North Pole by centimeters" It's crazy what is happening all the time.


Random_dude_1980 t1_ja9xo3m wrote

Geez, since when did this sub get overrun by quacks?


Gopokes91 OP t1_ja9y2mj wrote

What do you mean?


Random_dude_1980 t1_ja9yt2p wrote

The replies you’re getting. They’re mostly nonsense and doom-bringing.


DadSnare t1_jab9hkl wrote

It’s so bad in most threads now, that I’m wondering if they are haterbots running on a corporate/gov LLM.


Random_dude_1980 t1_jabspvq wrote

Nothing surprises me anymore. I too have noticed a general downtrend in the quality of posts. It’s like in the “funny” sub. Lately, everything that gets posted there is woefully unfunny.


ToastTurtle t1_jaa19m7 wrote

Reality is this is likely about as damaging to society as Y2K was. If the poles reverse, compasses will point to the new magnetic pole and that really is about all that will happen. Since we generally navigate through GPS now it won't impact much and when we do need to navigate using the pole, maps will have to be adjusted to the magnetic pole, not to true North (But since the Magnetic pole has never been at true North it probably won't matter at all since a compass really just ensures you are moving in a constant direction and it still would do that.)

Any of the really catastrophic consequences of the poles shifting would be visible in geological records like in Arctic ice cores. Since the poles have shifted about 100 times in the last 20 million years or so, we definitely could find a record of major problems. Suffice to say our computers and navigation systems can be adjusted as it changes so I expect on the scale of things we would see more likely no impact than any impact.

It is what I expect at least.


tripinjackal t1_jaa3t4t wrote

A while back on either history channel or nat geo (im talkin early 2000s) there was a doomsday theory centered around this, that the polls could flip or shift, and have done so many times. They mentioned that every time they flipped there was some correlating cataclysm that occured.

Their theory went more or less as follows: Earth spins on a single axis, and it is not completely spherical but elongated at the equator (Oblate spheroid). If the polls were to shift drastically enough then there would be a new axis (new north and south poles) and that the Earth will have to readjust its "oblate" shape to compensate for the new axis. Now because of plate techtonics it is entierly possible for the shape to adjust, but that if this change happened rapidly they believed it would cause some apocalyptic cataclism due to all the continents, plates etc realigning (Earthquakes, great floods, hurricanes, tidal waves, all volcanoes erupting, crackens waking up, darth vader etc.)

Not sure how plausable any of that is or if theres real truth there but could make for a good doomsday movie.


Gopokes91 OP t1_jaa4xx4 wrote

Isn’t that what happens in the movie 2012?


tripinjackal t1_jaacj0k wrote

Yep pretty much. I think whatever I was watching was illuding to the mayan calendar predicting this event/poll shift.


[deleted] t1_ja9d3qv wrote



brandude87 t1_ja9m7y1 wrote

Lol, what?! Why would a shift in the magnetic poles cause any physical disruption of the earth? Where is the logic there?


koherenssi t1_ja9qyvc wrote

IIRC it can interfere with comms and will also result in higher levels of cosmic radiation as the field gets weaker


DJSauvage t1_jaa0wxn wrote

All compass based navigation will grind to a halt. So, no effect.


RSchenck t1_jab3m4q wrote

It's not bad news at all. It's happened thousands of times and unless you're looking at magnetic data you can't even tell it happened. It's happened while humans were around too.


UniversalMomentum t1_jackz8p wrote

It's bad news for navigation I suppose, but we have almost no idea if it's bad news for humans. Species have seemingly lived through many polar reversals with no signs of mass extinctions, so probably not too much to worry about.

The polar reversals appear to happen slow also, so we'd probably have plenty of time to adapt.

I'd say the most likely catastrophize is the field lowers enough some electronics get friend and some navigation gets screwed up, but I don't think it happens fast so it would probably be more like a trickle of problems, not an avalanche of problems.


teslam3lrrwd36 t1_jacmznt wrote

Do you really want to see how a magnetic pole shift will affect you. Alright, stand facing north. Now look at your phone, now turn so that your facing south. Congratulation you just flipped the magnetic field in relation to your phone. It will affect magnetic compasses, so animal migration will be effected, but you and I don't migrate that way. as for aircraft and ship traffic, they use a magnetic compass as backup to a gyro compass which has to be calibrated. I know on board ships the gyro is calibrated using celestial navigation, not the magnetic compass because the magnetic compass can be thrown off by someone standing close to it with a set of keys in their pocket. or a wrench, or any large ferrous metal object.


AzLibDem t1_jaa7sse wrote

We are not in the midst of one, and there is no evidence that one would have a severe impact on organisms.


Smellthiel t1_jaaqr2o wrote

gps and compasses might be messed up for a few weeks but nothing catastrophic will happen


AlphaWolve2 t1_ja9ez0x wrote

Get two magnets and push opposing sides together and then watch one violent flip so it can attract, like that… Now imagine a dog shaking water or fleas off its back, everything on the surface will go flying off some right out into space and everything else crashing back down to earth including you!!!! Zero rate of survival…..


Gopokes91 OP t1_ja9fbme wrote

At least it’ll be a quick death.


AlphaWolve2 t1_ja9gh4j wrote

True, If it ever happens in our lifetime I hope to be outside when it does and I want to be wearing a parachute!!!! I don’t think it would matter though as gravity will go all wonky too I believe along with destabilisation of the atmosphere so oxygen evaporating into space, violent volcanic eruptions from major shifts in the tectonic plates, and huge Big Kahuna waves travelling half way around the world!!!! Be cool as to watch from a space ship!!! Sad AF though


Blu_Cloude t1_ja9jo99 wrote

A lot of people are saying this is the “real reason for climate change”

I don’t trust the corporations who are paying for scientists.

And I think it makes a lot of sense that the entire magnetic field of the earth changing would have an observable effect… like isn’t that how wind and weather and tides move?

I need ppl to explain this to me, because I don’t trust scientists funded by gas corporations. Sorry. Most “science” out there is incredibly biased because of money and money and money. Most studies only come out because the money it will make corporations. It’s so easy to buy science and I just don’t get how the literal magnetism of the earth ISNT causing a noticeable effect??? Maybe I don’t get magnetism.


[deleted] t1_ja9obmx wrote



Blu_Cloude t1_ja9p6z3 wrote

Right?? Large companies literally have a monopoly on KNOWLEDGE!!! That should be for the PEOPLE!! why do they charge money for you to view scientific journals when the scientists themselves don’t even get paid that same money!!!!!


BoojumG t1_ja9us87 wrote

Exxon knows climate change is real, they've just fought anyone else believing it.

And your implied claim that all climate scientists worldwide are paid for by gas corporations is pretty silly. If you pay any attention to climate science at all, it's obvious that climate change denial is only among the very small fraction of people who claim to be scientists and are directly funded by oil companies. All other climate scientists worldwide are independently agreeing on what's just obviously true given the evidence they've collected.


Consensuseur t1_jaa7pys wrote

I don't mean this rudely...but do you even science much? Do you know any real scientists? Do you understand what motivates them? I don't understand how you can dismiss something so without more understanding of it. Scientists tend to be could've gone into finance or invented something profitable. But no, they gather and interpret data ... To find and explain correlations. Like if you had programming chops but taught coding at a high school instead of banking on your tech skills. It's more like that. Wind ,weather and tides are not magnetically driven. That's down to earths interaction with lunar gravity and incoming solar radiation, but not magnetism. IMO you might do well to reorient your axis of trust/suspicion so you don't get misinformed. Imagine how great it would be if the experts actually knew their stuff and you could believe them because they're obsessed with, above all, accuracy of information! Yes, tobacco and oil paid for bunk science and lied/ lie about their products harm but they're the exceptions. Astrophysicists aren't trying to fool you bro. The world is a better place than that. You can just Google:. "free access to scholarly journals/ articles"...many sources will be revealed.


AFutureBrighter t1_ja9hx12 wrote

This will come when the end and restart comes. This will coincide. Almost all life, including nearly all humanity will die in tidal waves, earth quakes, and mudslides, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the last time this occurred. It’s all a cycle. Birth life death rebirth, and GOD is behind all of it.

Research the Younger Dryas, if you want real info on the last global reset….