The climate crisis slows down the Earth's rotation

A new study from the University of California San Diego published on Nature confirmed the harmful effects of climate change

by Lorenzo Ciotti
The climate crisis slows down the Earth's rotation
© Mario Tama / Staff Getty Images

The climate crisis has altered the Earth's rotation, causing us to lose 1 second, as revealed by the study by Duncan Agnew, geophysicist at the University of California San Diego and published this week in Nature.

And it's shocking to see how this is the fastest slowdown ever. In three years we could lose a second to the duration of a day, introducing the so-called negative leap second.

The mass of fresh water resulting from the melting of polar glaciers has moved and is moving towards the equator, causing a slowdown in the rotation speed of our planet.

Professor Duncan Agnew, professor at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics – Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California San Diego explained that the subtraction of the leap second should have occurred in 2026 in relation to the mechanisms of the Earth's core, but due to the melting of the glaciers and the consequent slowdown it will have to be done in 2029.

“The melting of the polar ice was large enough to greatly affect the rotation of the entire Earth in an unprecedented way. To me, the fact that humans have caused a change in the rotation of the Earth is astonishing. If the melting of the polar ice If polar polar cycles had not accelerated, this problem would have occurred 3 years earlier: global warming is already affecting global timekeeping," he told CNN.

Cliamte crisis
Cliamte crisis© Uriel Sinai / Stringer Getty Images

The climate crisis slows down the Earth's rotation

"The Earth's rotation is still full of surprises and not understood phenomena so we can observe the difference compared to atomic time, but we cannot predict it in the long term. In recent years the Earth has been accelerating less than expected, says Agnew , and we are wondering if a second will be removed for the first time. It is not easy to do large-scale tests," said Patrizia Tavella, director of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures.

She then added: "The details relating to the new tolerance, the exact date of implementation and the procedure will be decided at the next CGPM in 2026. Metrology experts are working to prepare a proposal that can respond to user needs and the correct use of international metrological standards.

The International Telecommunication Union, responsible for the radio transmission of time and frequency signals, also approved this decision. In the 1970s, for celestial navigation, a close agreement between the UTC and the rotation was necessary Earth.

Today we can extend this tolerance and it will be almost impossible to perceive a difference of a few minutes between UTC and the position of the Earth. In Europe Central European Time is used from Poland to Spain and the Sun is not exactly overhead of all of us at noon. In China, Beijing time is used throughout the country, while China spans 5 time zones."