Climate Change: Melting ice changes the Earth’s rotation and affects the measurement of time

Global warming has slowed it down a bit The rotation of the earth According to a new study, it may affect how we measure time.

The study found that the melting of the ice sheets – an accelerating trend largely due to climate change – slowed the Earth’s rotation faster than it would have otherwise.

The author of the study, Duncan Agnew A geophysicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, said the point at which Earth’s mass is concentrated is shifting as the polar ice melts.

This change in turn affects the planet’s angular velocity.

Less solid ice at the poles means more mass around the equator – the center of the Earth.

The study shows that humans have tapped into a force that scientists, astronomers, and scientists have puzzled over for millennia—a force long thought to be unaffected by humans.

“We’ve done something that measurably changed the Earth’s rotation speed, which is impressive even to me,” Agnew said.

“Unprecedented events are happening,” he added.

A study published in the journal “Nature” shows that climate change significantly affects the rotation of the Earth.

Due to a combination of factors, the Earth has started spinning faster in recent decades, a temporary trend that has led scientists to consider removing the leap second from clocks around the world for the first time in 2026.

But the melting of the polar ice caps forced scientists to change this change by about three years.

The hours and minutes that dictate our days are determined by the Earth’s rotation.

But this rotation is not constant – it can always change slightly, depending on what is happening on the surface of the Earth and in its molten core.

Due to these almost imperceptible changes, the world clocks have to be adjusted by “extra seconds”, which, although it sounds a little, can have a big impact on computing systems.

Many seconds have been added over the years.

But after a long deceleration trend, Earth’s own rotation is now accelerating due to changes in its core, and for the first time a second will have to be removed.

“The negative extra second has never been added or tested, so the problems it could cause are unprecedented,” he wrote. Patricia Tavela Member of the Time Department of the International Bureau of Metrology and Stations in France, in an article accompanying the study.

But exactly when that happens depends on global warming, according to the study.

“To understand what’s going to happen in global timing, you have to understand what’s happening with global warming,” Agnew said.

Until 1955, a second was defined as a fraction of the time it takes for the Earth to orbit the stars once.

Then came the highly accurate atomic clocks, which proved to be a more stable method of determining the leap second.

From the late 1960s, people started using it Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to set time zones.

UTC is based on atomic clocks but still keeps pace with the rotation of the planet.

However, since the rotation rate is not constant, the two time scales slowly diverge.

This means that every now and then an “extra second” has to be added for them to line up.

Changes in the Earth’s rotation over long periods of time are affected by tidal friction on the ocean floor – which slows its rotation.

The researcher noted that the influence of the melting ice caps, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which has recently warmed the planet, has become an important factor.

As the ocean ice melts, the meltwater moves from the poles toward the equator, further slowing the Earth’s rotation.

THE Ted Scambos A glaciologist at the University of Colorado who was not involved in the study describes the process as a figure skater spinning his hands above his head. When he lowers his arms to his shoulders, his rotation slows down.

However, while melting ice can slow the Earth’s rotation, the study suggests there is another factor at play when it comes to global timekeeping: processes in the Earth’s core.

A planet’s liquid core rotates independently of its solid outer shell.

If the core slows down, the solid mantle accelerates to maintain its speed. According to Agniou, that is exactly what is happening now.

We know very little about what happens about 2,900 kilometers below Earth’s surface, and it is not clear why the core’s speed changes.

“It’s fundamentally unexpected,” Agnew said.

But what is clear from the study is that while the melting ice has a slowing effect, overall the Earth’s rotation is speeding up. This means that one second must be subtracted the first time.

“One second sounds like a little bit, but computing systems built for activities like stock trading must be accurate to within a millimeter,” the researcher said.

Many computer systems have software that allows you to add a second, but subtract a few. People will have to reprogram their computers, introducing the possibility of error.

“No one expected the Earth to accelerate to the point where we would have to extract a second,” Agnew said.

According to the researcher, the results of his research can be a powerful tool to raise awareness among people about how we are changing our planet.

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