The earth has begun to rotate faster. Should we worry?
By Dr. Alastair Gunn
We define a day as 86,400 seconds, or 24 hours, this is the time it takes the Earth to revolve around itself. However, the Earth does not rotate uniformly. Usually, the Earth rotates more slowly than that so that the length of the day increases by an average of about 1.8 milliseconds per century. This means that 600 million years ago a day lasted only 21 hours.
The change in day length occurs due to several factors, including the tidal effects of the Moon and Sun, the union of the nucleus and mantle within the Earth, and the overall distribution of mass on the planets. Seismic activity, glaciers, weather, oceans and the Earth's magnetic field can also affect the length of the day.
In 2020 scientists made a surprising discovery. They found that, instead of slowing down, the Earth began to rotate faster. It is now spinning faster than ever in the last 50 years. In fact, the 28 shortest recorded days all occurred during 2020.
So far, scientists are not entirely sure what is causing this increase in the rate of rotation of the Earth, but some have suggested that it may be due to the melting of glaciers during the 20th century, or the accumulation of quantities of large bodies of water in the northern hemisphere reservoirs. However, experts predict that this speed is a temporary effect and the Earth will start to slow down again in the future.
But for now, should we worry? Although it will have no effect on our daily lives, it can have serious implications for technology such as GPS satellites, smartphones, computers and communication networks, which rely on extremely accurate time systems. But such problems are ultimately surmountable. So no, we do not have to worry.