Earth Sped Up And Experienced The Shortest Day In Recent History
By Nicole Rodrigues, 05 Aug 2022
For some of us who juggle work and life on a thin line, 24 hours in a day may not be enough. Now, time seems to be more fleeting as Earth has just recorded its shortest day. On July 29, 2022, scientists noticed that the day ended 1.59 milliseconds less than its usual 24 hours.
This is all due to the Earth spinning faster on its axis and causing shorter days. The planet’s rotation fluctuates on a daily basis when measured over a long period of time. Some days may take a fraction of a millisecond longer, while others may take a fraction shorter. However, the general consensus is that Earth’s rotation is becoming longer with each passing century.
Yet, in recent times, the planet appears to be speeding up again. In 2020, 28 of the shortest days since the 1960s were recorded using atomic clocks. In 2021, things slowed down again—and now in 2022, Earth is revving it up with this new record-breaking time.
So why exactly is this happening? Scientists don’t have a clear answer. In fact, it is made up of a number of things happening all at once. The Moon’s pull on us, first of all, is a big factor. It affects our tides, our ocean, and our gravity. According to the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), it states that the sharp increase and decrease in the length of each day is dependent on the Moon, and most of the shortest days ever recorded usually happen in July of each year.
Another reason researchers have pointed out is the processes occurring in the inner and outer layers of the Earth’s crust, as well as glaciers melting and reducing their weight on the poles. However, scientists are bringing forward a new theory at next week’s Asia Oceania Geosciences Society meeting, the ‘Chandler Wobble’.
This theory denotes small irregular movements of the Earth’s geographical poles.
Now, if you’re wondering if there will be any ramifications to this phenomenon: yes, there are. In fact, the Earth’s speeding tendencies can directly affect your smartphone as well. If Earth continues to hasten its rotation, it would necessitate the introduction of a negative leap second.
This is an extra one second that will be used to match our civil clocks (clocks used to measure time on Earth) with solar clocks (clocks that track the sun’s movement).
If this happens, our clocks will skip one second to keep the civil and solar clocks on time. This will lead to major problems for smartphones and other electronic devices that synchronize with the Network Time Protocol (NTP), which does not take into account the Earth’s changing rotation.
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