A startling discovery: the rotation speed of the Earth is changing
According to the scientists of cosmology, the speed of the Earth has been constantly changing, however, what has been happening during the last couple of years is something rather untypical for our planet. From ever dropping down, the speed is now accelerating. How is it happening and what does it mean for us?
What is a standard speed of the Earth?
Certainly, in order to understand the pattern of the speed changes of the Earth, we should first look at the speed as how it is supposed to be.
What is defined by the speed of Earth depends on the time it needs to make one rotation. As you know, this takes 24 hours which is 86,400 seconds. Even though these are well-known facts, they are still made with some approximation. That is so since the normal speed pattern for the Earth is actually gradual slowing down. The process of slowing down is extremely slow itself, thus, it is difficult for us to notice any changes. According to calculations, the Earth needs more an more time for one rotation which in practice means some 1.8 milliseconds are added to the length of a day per century. As you can imagine, this is a tiny difference, however, if you look at the entire age of our planet which is nearly 600 million years old, you will find that the day used to be only 21-hour long when the Earth just appeared in the Universe. Needless to say, the difference between that early-Earth days and the ones we have today is pretty significant.
The factors affecting the speed of the Earth
Since the speed of the Erath is changing, it is certainly interesting what exactly causes these changes. Actually, there are many factors which have an influence on the speed of our planet.
Some of them are external such as the tidal effects of the Sun and the Moon. Others are internal, happening on the planet or even inside it. For example, the coupling of the core mantle of the earth can change its speed as well. The way the mass is being distributed on the planet is also important. This distribution itself can be affected by such factors as glaciation, seismic activity, the oceans as well as the weather. The magnetic field of our planet is also important.
The new discovery
Recently, scientists have discovered an absolutely different pattern in the behaviour of our planet. It turned out that now the Earth is accelerating and its speed has been the fastest if compared to the speed noted during the last 50 years. In fact, during the previous year, researchers noted 28 days with the shortest length which is rather untypical for our planet.
Even though we know the factors which are affecting the speed of the planet, it is still not obvious which caused thus intensive changes in the behaviour of our planet. According some of the experts, the glacier melting which has been happening since the previous century could be a major culprit of this acceleration. Even if melting itself is not changing the speed, the water released and accumulated in large amounts in the reservoirs of the northern hemisphere could be causing such an effect as well.
Yet, according to some experts, such a situation might be temporary and, in all likelihood the Erath will come back to its normal speed.
What are the consequences of the Earth acceleration?
Such an abnormal behaviour of our planet might be a matter of concern. Certainly, as for our daily lives, we might not experience any serious changes. There might be an effect on the technology though. Such devices as computers, smartphones, GPS satellites as well as the technology of communication networks are relying on high accurate systems of timing. As you can imagine, the change of time can cause some trouble in their functioning. Still, it does not mean this issue cannot be resolved. So far, a leap second was added regularly for managing the fact that the Erath was slowing down. Now, this second can be subtracted.
The issue of the Earth acceleration can be a greater concern if it really turns out to be that the process is caused by the human activity.