February 6, 2023

Kris Holt

Something makes the earth spin faster and days shorter

Over the past two years, Feel more mysterious than ever. You’d be forgiven if you thought the days were passing by an increasingly faster clip. According to scientists, this perspective is not wrong. On June 29, midnight reached 1.59ms faster than expected. It was the shortest day in more than half a century, at least since scientists began tracking the pace of Earth’s rotation in the 1960s.

It wasn’t a one-time event either. In 2020, the planet experienced what were, at the time, the 28 shortest days in recorded history. And just last week, on July 26, the day lasted 1.5 milliseconds shorter than usual. “Since 2016, the Earth has been accelerating,” said Leonid Zotov, a researcher at Lomonosov Moscow State University. . And this year it rotates faster than it did in 2021 and 2020.

The days have become much longer since the formation of the Earth. as such He notes, about 1.4 billion years ago, the Earth’s rotation took less than 19 hours. Days are getting longer at about 74,000 milliseconds each year. But the planet’s rotation can fluctuate on a daily basis.

Scientists believe that there are a number of factors that may influence the Earth’s rotation, including earthquakes and strong winds , thawing and refreezing, and lunar climate. Some have suggested that the so-called “Chandler’s wobble” may have an effect on rotation as well. This phenomenon is a “small irregular deviation in the points of the Earth’s rotation relative to the solid Earth” put it down.

To account for fluctuations in the lengths of days, since 1972, there have been occasional leap seconds – adding one second to UTC. If the current trend continues for shorter days, there is a possibility that a negative leap second will be needed to keep the clocks aligned with the planet’s rotation. As such, the UTC will skip by one second.

Leap seconds are already causing havoc in ultra-high-resolution systems. just last week, , which has caused outages on Reddit and Cloudflare over the past decade. A negative leap second can lead to even more chaos.

“As the Earth’s rotation pattern changes, it is very likely that we will get a negative leap second sometime in the future,” META engineers Oleg Oblukhov and Akhmed Biagoy. . “The negative leap second effect has not been tested extensively; it can have a devastating effect on software that relies on timers or schedulers.”

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