Mapping Long-Term Changes in Earth's Magnetic Field

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Science  27 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5628, pp. 2044-2045
DOI: 10.1126/science.1082007

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Earth's geomagnetic field is of crucial importance for life because it protects our planet from cosmic rays. Yet in the course of Earth history, the field has undergone substantial changes in both its direction and strength. In their Perspective Johnson et al. chart recent advances in reconstructing maps of Earth's past magnetic field on time scales of millions of years. The results raise important questions about interactions among core and mantle dynamics, Earth's orbit, rotation, and magnetic field environment.