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Climate change is causing the Earth’s axis to tilt!3 min read

May 7, 2021 3 min read


Climate change is causing the Earth’s axis to tilt!3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A new study has revealed that the Earth’s axis of rotation is shifting. And it could be because of climate change.

The Earth’s axis of rotation is the line along which it spins around itself, while revolving around the sun. The axis intersects the Earth’s surface at the north and south poles. But the poles keep changing their location depending upon how mass is distributed across the surface of the Earth. This distribution is influenced by water bodies on the planet.
You know how an object leans more towards the side that is heavy? That’s what happens to Earth, too.

Sourced from Giphy

The Earth spins on its axis like a top. When the weight of the top shifts, the spinning top wobbles and leans its axis. Something similar happens to Earth. And as the poles are nothing but the points at which the axis intersects the Earth, their positions gets altered too! Also, the Earth is not a perfect sphere but a spheroid with uneven mass distribution making it wobble even in general course.

Watch the Earth spin like a top, here:

What are the reasons for the shift?

Earlier, natural causes like ocean currents caused this shift. But through 1990s, rising temperature could be designated as a direct cause. Rising temperatures lead to melting of glaciers. Every year, hundreds of billions of tons of ice melt into ocean bodies. This in turn alters the redistribution of water across the surface of the Earth shifting the poles.

Why are global temperatures rising? This image might tease your grey cells into finding the answer. Click away if you need some assistance.

Another cause for this shift is groundwater depletion. Millions of tons of groundwater is used for drinking purposes, and industrial and agricultural processes and eventually drained into the sea. This alters the mass distribution of Earth, thus altering the spinning axis.

Sourced from Giphy

Does this mean that Santa Claus is constantly changing address? In other words, how drastic is this shift?

In the last four decades, the poles have moved a distance of four metres eastwards. Every year, the spin axis moves around ten centimetres. The average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 was seventeen times faster than the one from 1980 to 1995. Now, that is not enough to effect daily life. But it could make days just a tad bit longer by mere milliseconds.

Sourced from USA Today, and The Indian Express.