Earth’s north and south magnetic poles are due to shift soon?

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Dear Tom,
I’ve heard that the Earth’s north and south magnetic poles are due to shift soon (geologically speaking, “soon” could be years, centuries or much longer), probably reversing. What changes will happen with the weather when the poles switch?
— Barbara Berghoff, Fifield, Wis.

Dear Barbara,
NASA says magnetic polarity reversals have occurred hundreds of times in the last 3 billion years of the Earth’s history, but geologic and fossil records indicate no effects of any kind. Reversal occurs over time periods of hundreds or thousands of years. Pole reversal last occurred about 600,000 years ago. Magnetism does not affect the weather.
However, magnetoreception, the ability of an organism to detect a magnetic field, allows certain animals (homing pigeons, for example) to perceive direction, altitude or location.
WGN’s Tom Skilling explains what effects, if any, the reversal of the Earth’s poles will have on weather.

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