How will the magnetic reversal that is going to occur w/in the next 300 years affect the following?
1) The Van Allen Belts / aura borealis and aurora austrelis
2) The weather
*bonus: what happens if the aurora borealis "touches" your skin?
The more complex entities wil be the most affected. The Van allen belts will simply reorient to the change (as will the auroras). The weather will change in more complex ways. Animals that are dependant upon the field for navigation etc. will be greatly disadvantaged as will animals sensitive to changes in their environment. technology that depends on the fields will be utterly useless.
The auroras are produced as charged particles from the solar wind react with the part of our atmosphere consiting of charged particles lined up in the magnetic field (The Ionosphere) where it is the most dense (the poles). The interaction of these charges produces light and radio emmissions. if the ions were to touch your skin, no problem. The high energy particles and radiation in the solar wind however would cook you through and through, much as a suntan that penetrated through your body.
I'll have to do some research to answer this one. I'm fairly certain that the auroras are just ionization of the atmosphere, and that shouldn't hurt you if you touch it. Okay. You've had good answers on the flip, now here's a site for the aurora. http://www.exploratorium.edu/learning_studio/auroras/happen.html
!) Nothing. The true direction of the poles will change, but the magnetosphere will remain the same. The poles will just have an oposite magnetism.
2)The weather isn't effected by the magnetic poles, weather is effected by the solar heating from the sun.
3) Mechanisms for navigation would potentially be effected for animals such as birds, but it has not been proven that they use magnetism for their navigation, so the fact is that we don't really know for sure.
4) GPS satellites would be effected but could easily be repaired by reprogramming. Other navigation systems could be effected, but overall the reprogramming would be the savior.
This goes with saying that the earths magnetic poles will reverse, but the question itself asked implies that the change will without a doubt change in the next 300 years. The fact of the matter is that statistically it would change, but it could be another 10,000 or 100,000 years before a change would occur if at all. We simply do not know when it will happen.
In response to one of the answers above, it seems to me that organisms that rely on the magnetic field for navigation would not be adversely affected after the reversal has completed.
It's difficult for me to explain why I think this, but I'll give it a shot. Let's make directions into colors for discussion purposes.
Let's say there's a tree and a bird lives in it. There's a rock south of the tree. As of now, when a bird goes from the tree to the rock, it will feel like it is traveling GREEN. It knows it has to travel the opposite of GREEN to get back to the tree, so it travels BLUE.
After the reversal is complete, when a bird flies from the tree to the rock, it might feel like it is traveling BLUE. It will know to travel the opposite of BLUE to return to its tree, so it will travel GREEN.
There will probably be problems for these organisms right at the time of the reversal, however.
We will all DIE!!!! Haven't you seen that movie about going to the center of the earth and...
Nah. Forget it.