by Ben Davidson
August 10, 2021
Davidson a, b (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Mobile Observatory Project, Colorado Springs,
Space Weather News, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
One of the most strongly divisive and imminently important issues in
science is whether the known
geomagnetic excursions of the last
100,000 years are coincident with major
climate changes and
The field is utterly divided, and a resolution is not only
academically desirable, but evidence suggests that
field is entering excursion again now, and if this geomagnetic
secular variation presents a biosphere problem, the focus and
discourse of various fields need a dramatic shift, now...
This disagreement was highlighted in February 2021, with major
publications claiming both that the
Laschamp geomagnetic excursion
42,000 years ago was a major extinction event (Cooper et al. 2021)
and expressing doubt (Voosen 2021).
Both were published in the same
volume 371 of the prestigious journal SCIENCE, they created even
more confusion in the field, and it is critical that the next round
of academic discussions appreciates the magnitude of the issue, and
We often see investigations in this field failing to include a broad
enough array of issues.
Let's take the example of the
well-publicized study in 2020, when it was proposed that the Neaderthal
extinction was the result of competition with modern humans, and not
abrupt climate change or interbreeding (Timmerman 2020).
The existence of dramatic geomagnetic changes during the
extinction is well established:
Blanchet et al.
Channell et al.
Korte et al. 2019
Levi et al. 1990
Noel and Tarling,
Svensson et al. 2006,
...and this was not part of Timmerman's
analysis, even though this causal link between the excursions and
extinctions has been directly explored via the increase in UV light
damage to biological cells and DNA due to destruction of the ozone
by solar radiation during the excursion (Valet and Valladas, 2010;
Channell and Vigliotti, 2019).
These studies and others have found a plausible causation for the
The Valet and Valladas (2010) paper appeared in the same
journal as Timmerman (2020), and Channell and Vigliotti (2019)
appeared in the #1 geophysical journal - Reviews of Geophysics (AGU)
- it was unacceptable to ignore those studies in this context, and
yet it is a common feature of analyses in this field.
No study investigating the connection between these geomagnetic
events and biosphere stress has considered both climate AND
radiation exposure as causes of extinction, they pick one or
the other (Cooper et al. 2021 picked climate change), and there are
further biosphere challenges during a geomagnetic excursion which
also deserve attention in this discussion.
Recent studies have revealed numerous correlations between,
storms/cosmic rays and adverse biophysical outcomes like terminal
cardiac events and strokes, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune
flare-ups, migraines, seizures, and cognitive/emotional stresses.
(Cherry 2002; Jarusevicius et al. 2020; Rozhkov et al. 2018;
Shepherd et al. 2018; Stoupel et al. 2018; Vencloviene et al. 2018).
The potential dynamics of these biophysical correlations during a
geomagnetic intensity minimum have not been explored in the
literature, but there is unquestionably more exposure to those
stimuli during an excursion, which means that the adverse reactions
will be stronger and more numerous.
In a geomagnetic minimum, we should consider the well-understood
stresses of enhanced UV-B exposure to microbes and plants, which
directly impacts their photosynthetic processes, their
progeny (seed integrity), the herbivores that rely on them, and the
carnivores relying on the herbivores.
Another challenge comes with
the loss of predictability and stability of migratory species:
birds and marine creatures (Granger et al. 2020; Keller et al. 2021)
use earth's magnetic field...
It is reasonable to expect the excursion
to negatively affect those species and their immediate superiors in
the food chain.
The totality of these challenges, including radiation,
bio-electromagnetic coupling, climate changes and competition with
modern humans, likely worked as an ensemble of stresses that led to
the Neanderthal extinction, that of other hominin species, and
numerous megafauna known to have disappeared during past magnetic
These stresses on the food chaincould have created
further food insecurity and competition between species, such that
even the human-competition-effect would be partially driven by the
challenges that come with a geomagnetic excursion.
Modeling any sub-segment of these challenges as independent variables
is a considerable error in itself.
Today, the earth's magnetic field is undergoing a well-known
shift of the magnetic pole position.
These shifts have
been accelerating over the last century, with the polar motion
increasing, and the rate of geomagnetic strength now decreasing at
five percent per decade, as opposed to five percent per century for
much of the 1900s (Dickerson 2014).
The recent identification of
another acceleration of the field over the pacific sector in 2017
(Finlay et al. 2020) has put the subject in firm focus as,
ongoing event on our planet...
Our electrified society, air travel, communications and more have
all developed in an age where earth's magnetic field was much
stronger than it will be during the zenith of this excursion event.
We now have more than the climate, radiation, food-chain disruption
and solar-geomagnetic biology connections to consider in this
upcoming event- we are at risk of losing our modern, electrified
It is a common misconception that earth's last major magnetic event
was the famous Laschamp excursion 42,000 years ago, but the Mono
Lake, Lake Mungo, and Gothenburg
excursions occurred more recently, along with a minor event known as
"Hilina Pali", and one earlier in the timeline that shows up in
These events are fast-flips, rapid reversals, and
these occur in a cycle of ~12,000 years.
Gothenburg was ~12,000 to
13,000 years ago, and earth's field is performing the excursion
again- right on time.
Looking ahead to the next round of academic studies on this topic,
it is imperative that the field give appropriate treatment to all
the potential biosphere stresses invoked by a weakening
magnetic field and shifting magnetic pole position.
the loss of ozone and climate changes
radiation effect from both extra UV and galactic cosmic rays - on
the entire food chain
the navigational disruption to species
caused by the magnetic change
the geomagnetic interrelationship
with critical biological processes
the dependence of
modern society on electricity,
...and the increased
vulnerability of these systems to both cosmic rays and solar flares
while earth has a weaker planetary magnetic shield
The world is watching, and the future may depend on how well we
understand these changes and the challenges they present.
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