Fr.: inversion magnétique
A change in the Earth's → magnetic field in which the → magnetic north pole is transformed into a → magnetic south pole and the magnetic south pole becomes a magnetic north pole. There are geological proofs indicating that the Earth's magnetic field has undergone numerous reversals of → polarity in the past. In the last 10 million years, there have been, on average, 4 or 5 reversals per million years. At other times, for example during the → Cretaceous era, there have been much longer periods when no reversals occurred. Over the past two centuries, Earth's magnetic field has weakened by 15%. Risks of a weak magnetic field include more deaths from cancer due to increased radiation, electrical grid collapse from severe solar storms, climate change, and temporary ozone holes. See also → geomagnetic excursion.