Science News
Published: Dec 15, 2015
[VIDEO] Glaciers Melt; Slow Down Rotation of Earth Increasing Days
by Tashi Singh


[VIDEO] Research has shown recently that melting glaciers might slow down the rotation of the Earth and shift its central axis.

Rising global temperatures and melting glaciers are causing rising sea levels, researchers report. The result is a slight slowing of the Earth's rotation.

In a research published in the journal Science Advances on Dec. 11, scientists claimed that melted water from glaciers slowing down the rotation of the Earth will cause our days to become 1.7 milliseconds longer.

"Because glaciers are at high latitudes, when they melt they redistribute water from these high latitudes towards lower latitudes,” said Jerry Mitrovica, a geophysicist from Harvard University, Reuters reports. “Like a figure skater who moves his or her arms away from their body, this acts to slow the rotation rate of the Earth."

“Imagine a figure skater who doesn't stick their arms straight out but rather sticks one at one angle and the other out at another angle. The figure skater will begin to wobble back and forth,” Mitrovica adds. “This is the same thing as polar motion."

The melting of the ice sheets coupled with the rise in sea levels altered the planet's rotation axis at the north pole to rates of less than a centimeter per year, Mitrovica said. This melting slowed the Earth’s rotation and the duration of a day increased by nearly a thousandth of a second over the 20th century, Mitrovica said.

“These are small effects,” Mitrovica said. The observed slowdown in rotation does not pose a danger to the planet, he said.

However, if polar ice sheets melt at higher rates this century, as forecasted by experts, the impact on Earth’s rotation will be greater, Mitrovica said.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

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