On Tuesday, July 26, researchers set a new world record, indicating that the planet is spinning faster than ever, making the days shorter. Using precise calculations and atomic clocks, the scientists noted the change in time with the shortest day ever observed. However, the scientists then noted that despite this record, Earth may actually be slowing down, leading to longer days.
Matt King and Christopher Watson from the University of Tasmania wrote: “But despite this record, the steady pace has gradually turned into a slowdown since 2020 – the days are getting longer again, and the reason is still a mystery. “
It doesn’t take exactly 24 hours for the Earth to rotate around its axis, it usually varies so little, that even events like earthquakes affect this time.
Professor King and Watson said: “For millions of years, the Earth’s rotation has slowed due to frictional effects associated with tides driven by the Moon.
“This process adds about 2.3 milliseconds to the length of each day every century.
“A few billion years ago an Earth day was only about 19 hours.”
However, over the past 20,000 years since the last ice age, the melting of the polar ice sheets has reduced surface pressure on Earth, causing the mantle to move steadily toward the poles.
The researchers wrote: “Just as a ballet dancer spins faster as they bring their arms toward their body—the axis around which they spin—so our planet’s spin rate increases when this mass is on Earth’s axis.” gets closer to.
“And this process reduces every day by about 0.6 milliseconds every century.”
Once scientists accounted for the slight rotation speed fluctuations we know were caused by tidal and seasonal effects, they were amazed by the findings.
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They found that despite breaking the record for shortest day, “the long-term trajectory has shifted from shortening to lengthening since 2020”, marking an “unprecedented change” over the past five decades.
Researchers have come up with many different theories about why this is happening, some suggesting that melting ice caps or weather events such as back-to-back La Nia may have played a role.
Some even speculated that it may be related to the huge volcanic eruption in Tonga, injecting enormous amounts of water into the atmosphere, however, it does not appear to have occurred in January of this year.
Professor King and Watson said: “Scientists have speculated that the mysterious change in the planet’s rotation speed is related to a phenomenon called the “Chandler’s wobble” – a small deviation in Earth’s rotation axis with a period of about 430 days.
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“Observations from radio telescopes also show that wobble has decreased in recent years; the two may be linked.”
While the Earth seems to be slowing down all of a sudden, it is moving further away from the Sun.
According to NASA, Earth is on average about 150 million kilometers away from the giant ball of flames, moving in an elliptical orbit.
However, the average distance between Earth and the Sun has been increasing slowly over time, especially as the Sun loses mass.
Nuclear fusion, which involves the conversion of mass into energy, is what powers the Sun.
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