The Earth’s rotation is slowing down – and here’s why

“This very subtle effect, Earth’s rotation, is a way to monitor how much ice sheets are melting and adds to how we are monitoring sea level rise”, Mitrovica said.

Melting water from polar ice caps does not only increase water levels in our oceans, it is also slowing down Earth’s rotation, researchers have suggested through a new study.

The gravity pull from the Moon also contributes to the slow down, acting a little like a lever break. However, in the short term, a variety of different factors can also speed up and slow down how fast Earth whirls.

Dumberry explained that they were able to reach this figure by using the traditional way of identifying changes in the speed of the Earth’s rotation: by looking at records of ancient eclipses recorded by civilisations such as the Babylonians.

Additionally, the glacial melt will make the Earth’s rotation wobble because “the melting of glaciers isn’t perfectly symmetrical, and the water will move more in some parts of the Earth than others”, Mitrovica told The WashingtonPost.

Mitrovica’s team went back to Munk’s research and applied the latest scientific understanding to it. They found that Munk had slightly overestimated the average sea level rise – it was around 1mm to 1.5mm each year over the 20th century rather than 2mm. In the process, they may have solved a 13-year-old conundrum in earth science called “Munk’s enigma”, which asked why the influx of water from melting glaciers wasn’t apparent in measurements of the Earth’s rotation. This should in turn cause Earth to tilt a bit and spin more quickly.

Based on their work reconciling these discrepancies, the scientists involved in the study are confident in predicting sea level to the end of the 21st century. Munk assumed the Earth had rapidly adjusted to ice melting that occurred as the Ice Age ended. This should significantly reduce the predicted amount of shift in Earth’s spin and axis. This meant previous studies did not correctly account for how much glaciers would deform underlying rock and influence Earth’s spin. As an effect of Earth rotating more slowly, the length of our days is slowly increasing.

A new study conducted by a team of scientists revealed that the effects of climate change could alter the rotation of Earth.

As a result, the Earth’s rotation become slow, thus, the length of the days gradually increases. You see it applying in microcosms, but you also see it happening at the macro level as is the case with recent research showing that climate change is not only impacting micro levels thing such as species, it is even impacting the rotation of the Earth itself. “By resolving Munk’s enigma, we further strengthen the already strong argument that we are impacting climate”.