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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Variability of Millennial-Scale Trends in the Geomagnetic Axial Dipole

  • Author(s): Buffett, B
  • Davis, W
  • Avery, MS
  • et al.

©2019. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. The historical trend in the axial dipole is sufficient to reverse the field in less than 2 kyr. Assessing the prospect of an imminent polarity reversal depends on the probability of sustaining the historical trend for long enough to produce a reversal. We use a stochastic model to predict the variability of trends for arbitrary time windows. Our predictions agree well with the trends computed from paleomagnetic models. Applying these predictions to the historical record shows that the current trend is likely due to natural variability. Furthermore, an extrapolation of the current trend for the next 1 to 2 kyr is highly unlikely. Instead, we compute the trend and time window needed to reverse the field with a specified probability. We find that the dipole could reverse in the next 20 kyr with a probability of 2%.

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