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The Earth has recorded its shortest day since the 1960s

  • Published
    5th Aug, 2022

On June 29, the Earth completed one full spin, a day, in 1.59 milliseconds less than its routine 24 hours.

  • The Earth is spinning faster, and recently recorded its shortest day ever.
  • June 29, 2022 was 1.59 millisecond less than the average day.
  • The record was almost broken again this month when Earth completed its rotation in 1.47 milliseconds less than 24 hours on July 26.

Some of the explanations regarding faster spinning Earth:

There are no conclusive proofs at the moment to decipher why Earth has been spinning fast. But there are some leading theories that are doing the rounds.

  • Changes to the climate or climate systems, such as melting and freezing of glaciers or winds, whose shifting weight pulls on the Earth.
  • Earthquakes and other seismic activity which move mass toward the center of the Earth, like a spinning person pulling their arms in.
  • Movement within the Earth's molten core that shifts mass on the planet, Forbes reported.
  • Ocean circulation and pressure on the seabed that pulls on the Earth's axis.
  • The "Chandler Wobble"—a natural shifting of the Earth's axis due to the planet not being perfectly spherical—could be linked to the spinning speeds

What can happen if the Earth continues to spin faster on a sustained basis?

  • To ensure that the time on clocks matches the speed of the Earth’s rotation, a system of leap seconds has been used since the 1970s.
  • They involve one-second adjustments to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the time standard used to synchronize clocks around the world.
  • Due to the long-term slowing in the planet’s spin, 27 leap seconds have been added to UTC.
  • However, if the Earth continues to spin faster and days subsequently become shorter, scientists may have to introduce the first ever ‘negative leap second,’ which involves a subtraction of a second from clocks.
  • According to a report by Forbes, a faster spin would mean Earth gets the same position a little earlier than the previous day.
  • A half-a-millisecond equates to 10-inches or 26 centimetres at the equator. In short, GPS satellites—which already have to be corrected for the effect of Einstein’s general relativity theory (the curve of space and time)—are quickly going to become useless.
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