09/07/2014 05:51 BST | Updated 09/07/2014 05:59 BST

Earth's Protective Forcefield Is Weakening Ten Times Faster Than Expected

The Earth's magnetic field is weakening far quicker than scientists expected, degrading at a rate ten times faster than was originally predicted.

This new information was gathered by the European Space Agency's 'Third Swarm' satellites which, in tandem, analyse both the magnetic fields surrounding the Earth and also the Earth's core, which creates the fields in the first place.

According to the new data the largest weak spot has now grown to over 370,000 miles in size above the Earth's surface.

Original predictions had suggested the field would weaken at five per cent per century but now it appears as though it's weakening at five per cent per decade.

magnetic fields

Before we all start panicking though, don't. This development is likely hust part of an ancient cycle that has been going on for millions of years.

Scientists believe it could be a side effect of our magnetic poles switching. Taking place every hundred thousand years or so, the poles reverse which unsurprisingly causes some side effects to the Earth's protective magnetic field.

Speaking exclusively to LiveScience, ESA's Third Swarm manager Rune Floberghagen hopes that further studies will shed more light on why the field is weakening far faster than expected though. According to recent date magnetic north is now heading towards Siberia.

Earth's magnetic field is vital for the protection of the inhabitants that live on its surface; it protects against the harmful radiation that the Sun emits. Earth's magnetic fields are unique to the planet because of its solid iron core which is then surrounded by molten metal, this combination of the two creates huge protective fields.

There is no evidence of mass extinctions or other environmental effects taking place during magnetic flips in Earth's history. However it is possible Earth's communications and power grids could be affected unless steps are taken to protect them from the increased level of solar radiation.

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