Tags: glaciers | earth | rotation | melting water

Glaciers Slow Earth's Rotation as Melting Water Bulges at Equator

Image: Glaciers Slow Earth's Rotation as Melting Water Bulges at Equator
(REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters)

By    |   Tuesday, 15 Dec 2015 11:41 AM

Melting glaciers are slowing the Earth's rotation and making for longer days, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.

Like an ice skater who moves his or her arms in to spin faster and out to slow down, the Earth is reacting the same way as glaciers in the North and South poles continue to melt, sending water into the oceans and toward equator, said a University of Alberta news release.

The study said the weight shift from the poles to the oceans, though, has not caused as much of a slowing as scientists originally thought would take place, said physics professor Mathieu Dumberry, co-author of the study, noted CBC News.

Scientists predict the Earth's rotation will slow by 1.7 milliseconds a century. They were initially puzzled as to why they haven't seen more of an effect, but Dumberry said that's because they hadn't factored in the movement of the Earth's core, which has actually been speeding up.

"In order to fully understand the sea-level change that has occurred in the past century, we need to understand the dynamics of the flow in Earth's core," said Dumberry. "Over the past 3,000 years, the core of the Earth has been speeding up a little, and the mantle-crust on which we stand is slowing down."

Scientists said the gravitational pull from the moon also is contributing to the Earth's slower rotation, but Dumberry added that scientists were not able to make the math work on the slowdown's actual speed until they factored in the movement of the Earth's core.

The melting has also caused a slight wobbling of the Earth's axis, called "polar wander,"  said Harvard University geophysicist Jerry Mitrovica, a co-author of the study, noted London's Daily Mail.

"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. This is the same thing as polar motion," said Mitrovica.


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Melting glaciers are slowing the Earth's rotation and making for longer days, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.
glaciers, earth, rotation, melting water
360
2015-41-15
Tuesday, 15 Dec 2015 11:41 AM
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