How climate change is changing the Earth’s rotation axis | nature

How climate change is changing the Earth’s rotation axis |  nature

Floods, droughts, torrential rains, infernal fires, extreme temperatures, and species extinction.

Much of the effects of human induced climate change are evident in the four corners of the planet. However, some of them are not very clear.

Research published in March in the scientific journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) showed that climate change was behind the spread of A series of displacements on the Earth’s axis of rotation From the 1990s.

In the past 30 years, the planet’s axis – the imaginary line around which the Earth rotates in its motion in upon itself – has been It had an accelerated displacement. Since 1980, the position of the poles (the points where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects the surface) has changed by about four meters in the eastern direction, the work says.

An assessment of the so-called polar drift, which is the term for this polar movement, indicates that the flow changed direction completely in 1995, and between that year and 2020, the velocity of polar movement increased by about 17 times compared to what was observed between 1981 and 1995.

Climate change is causing accelerated snowmelt at the poles – Image: Getty Images via BBC

According to experts, the displacement of the Earth’s axis is normal.

Changes in the planet’s mass distribution cause the axis to move, and thus the poles to move.

What the research indicates, however, is that human labor is one of the drivers of acceleration observed since 1990.

To understand why it is necessary to revisit some of the concepts of physics we learned in high school.

The rotation of an object is affected by the way its mass is distributed.

The distribution of Earth’s weight, in turn, is always changing, as the planet’s molten bowels vibrate and its surface changes.

The poles of the planet change in response to several factors – Image: Scientific

But water, which makes up nearly three-quarters of the planet, also has a primary “weight” in this process.

Therefore, the researchers decided to do Observations of water bodies, measurements of ice loss and volume of groundwater pumped for human use To check its effect on axis displacement.

The research found that water is a key factor: the loss of water from polar regions – ice that has melted and dried up in the oceans – will be “The main driver of the rapid polar erosion after the 1990s.”

Glacier melting is A direct consequence of man-made climate change.

It is estimated that more than A third of the world’s remaining glaciers will melt in less than a centuryBefore 2100. As for the banks of sea ice, 95% of the oldest and thickest of the Arctic are already gone.

Scientists estimate that if pollutant gas emissions continue to increase unchecked, Arctic ice may run out during the summers beginning in 2040.

The study also indicates how pumping water for agriculture or human consumption, to a lesser extent, affects polar drift.

This is because water in a water table previously stored underground tends to flow into the sea, redistributing its weight on the planet.

Experts estimate that in the past 50 years, humans have extracted 18 trillion tons of water from deep aquifers, which have never been replaced.

“The results provide evidence for studying climate-driven polar movement in the past,” said Suxia Liu, a hydrologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and lead author of the study, in a statement.

Science has already linked glacier melting to movements observed at the poles between 2005 and 2012 to data collected by the Grace Mission (short for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), which launched a satellite into space in 2002.

This is the first survey, however, to demonstrate The impact of climate change on the Earth’s rotation axis In the decade prior to the launch of this monitoring system.

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