In the news today is more information about the growing ozone hole over Antarctica. Now it just happens that yesterday I was looking up information on the Earth’s magnetic field when I came across an interesting fact that I didn’t realize. The Earth’s magnetic field is weakening and has done so by at least 10% since the mid-1800’s. Now a couple of interesting thoughts happened to pique my interest in terms of a potential relationship between the two.
The first was the way in which the size and shape of the ozone hole tends to move around from year to year. In many respects this is due to the general circulation of air currents which move chemicals in and out of different regions of the stratospheric layer both vertically, as a function of convection currents from the ground up, and horizontally, as a function of fluid dynamics between latitudes.
The second was the concept of diamagnetism, in which molecules in a substance are repelled equally from both the north and south ends of a magnet. Exploratorium’s grape experiment is a really good example of this principle in practice and is a much more clear example than what is in Wikipedia.
The third thing was the way in which the earth’s magnetic field is currently assumed to have taken shape. We know from the geological record that the earth’s poles do shift on average every 200,000 years and they we are well overdue for one by about 500,000 years. If in fact the disorderly-flip theory is correct, then chaos theory suggests that as a new magnetic field starts to form it will do so on an ever increasing rate of progression. Once the field strength reduces to about 20% of theoretical maximum it should flip and start to rebound and stabilize again.
Now – here is what I was considering: Maybe one of the influencing factors in the creation of the ozone hole is not just all the chemical by-products we are pumping in the air (this relationship is well known) but is also a function of this magnetic pole shift. My theory here is that as new magnetic fields start to develop, the field strength near the equatorial regions will be the first to be impacted. We should see a decline in magnetic field strength as the new field starts to superimpose itself over the old one.
In fact this is sort of what we are seeing currently with the lowest point of field strength origin being in the lower part of Brazil. Could this be a sign of a few magnetic field developing? I don’t know but let’s assume for a moment that the decrease in magnetic field strength near the equatorial regions is due at least in part to a cyclical change deep under the Earth’s mantle.
In this case the magnetic field strength at the poles would increase relative to those near the equator. This doesn’t mean that the poles have suddenly become stronger – only that the overall distribution is now no longer even.
Ozone however is a known diamagnetic compound. So if the relative strength of the earth’s magnetic field were to suddenly increase at the poles and not so much near the equator, then shouldn’t that suggest a natural migration of ozone away from the poles and more towards the Earth’s mid-regions? I would suggest that it does and in part what we are seeing at the poles is a natural migration of ozone towards the equatorial regions rather than an overall depletion of ozone which just happens to manifest uniquely at the magnetic poles.
This also may be an explanation why the hole at the southern pole is so pronounced where as the ozone hole at the north pole is not as well developed. Looking at the diagram from Geomay we can see the magnetic field in the northern reaches is more evenly disbursed which means there is far less of a differential between the north pole down to the equator than then is from the south pole up.
Assuming that there is in fact a relationship here, there is another interesting prospect that we may be witness to in our lifetimes. Consider that the Earth’s magnetic field has experienced a known reduction by 10% since 1845. Chaos theory suggest that self organizing systems do so on an exponentially incremental basis. Essentially the closer we get to the tipping point the faster we go. Sort of like pouring water from one pitcher into another – as we tip the first pitcher up, the water flows at a slow rate and so the first half of the jug empties much much slower than the last half of the pitcher.
Now consider that a 20% reduction in overall magnetic field strength seems to be the tipping point. We are at least half way there. That suggests we will cover the ‘distance’ to the remaining 10% in under 150 years. If chaos theory holds that could mean we are in the early stages of a pole shift which could occur as early as 15-20 years from now.
Keep in mind there are a lot of ‘ifs’ in this conjecture however it seems probable that there is a relationship and if so, then ozone movement may be an early warning indicator of deeper changes occurring within the earth’s core. One way that this could be partially confirmed is to sample the density of ozone at different spots where there are also magnetic field stations and see if the density of ozone is inversely proportional to the field strength or at least is relatively proportional based on the magnetic lines of force.
If it is then there is a good chance that the ozone hole is in part a natural phenomena and that we are simply witnessing, in part, one of the great natural spectacles of our time.