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Trending Science: Earth shifting on its polar axis due to climate change

Trending Science: Earth shifting on its polar axis due to climate change Environment

Trending Science: Earth shifting on its polar axis due to climate change

A new NASA study has found that melting ice and shifting rain patterns are causing the North and South Poles to drift, resulting in a dramatic shift in Earth’s polar axis.
 
Scientists and navigators have been accurately measuring the true pole and polar motion since 1899, and for almost the entire 20th century they migrated a bit toward Canada. But that has changed with this century, and now it’s moving toward the UK, according to study lead author Surendra Adhikari at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab. The study has been published in the journal ‘Science Advances.’

Melting ice sheets, especially in Greenland but also in Antarctica, (that hold 99 % of the Earth’s freshwater reserves) are changing the distribution of weight on Earth. This highlights the very real and alarming impact of climate change on our planet.

The study analysed satellite and land measurement data from 2003 to 2015 and applied it to how and why the Earth moves the way it does. While it's normal for the axis to move around a little bit, the recent shift has been more than expected.

According to the study, since the beginning of the new millennium, the planet’s spin axis has wandered away from its normal range to the tune of about 75 degrees eastward. The tilt is caused by shifts in water distribution, thanks to the more than 396 trillion kilograms of ice that Greenland and west Antarctica lose per year. That, plus the 74 trillion kilograms that east Antarctica gains annually, puts more weight distribution towards the east, causing the planet to wobble on its polar axis.

‘That may seem like a tiny variation, but there is very important information embedded in that,’ said Dr Adhikari. ‘This shift has been on the order of 10 centimeters a year [since 2000], so it's probably not enough to warrant a recalculation of the planet's geographic pole… although later generations may have to consider it if things keep changing.’

However, it’s not just the shrinking glaciers at the two poles that are contributing to the change in the Earth’s polar axis. The research team also reports that a lot of mass also gets moved around due to large-scale loss of liquid from the land. They theorise that the rotational pole is shifting towards Europe also because there has been a large-scale loss of water from lakes and aquifers in Eurasia, around the Caspian Sea, and in India. Overall warmer temperatures have led to more evaporation and less precipitation in many regions of the world. From a human perspective, booming populations have been consuming more from reservoirs and wells.

Dr Adhikari and his team hope their findings will help other climate researchers improve the general understanding of global forces. ‘We should be able to use polar-motion data to answer some interesting questions,’ says Adhikari. For example, the data could help make climate models more accurate, as scientists could work backwards from the robust archive on polar drift to infer the melting and evaporation rates of the past.

Scientists might similarly be able to track how fast specific regions have dried out from drought. The end result could be better and more accurate predictions of changes in climate in the future, as well as a better understanding of how the Earth spins through space.

 

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Trending Science; Earth shifting on its polar axis due to climate change Trending Science Earth shifting polar axis climate change caspian sea fish map of caspian sea caspian sea lake caspian sea river caspian sea monster caspian sea oil caspian sea iran caspian sea countries caspian sea iran Caspian Sea fish Photo of the Caspian Sea Caspian Sea map Caspian Sea Caspian Sea depth Caspian Sea sturgeon of the Caspian Sea Khezer_Shahr Caspian Sea Caspian oil seport of Amirabad seport of Port Anzali Mazandaran Gilan, Golestan Babolsar Tourist North Country Dodangeh Chahardangeh the Khazars the people of the Khazars Caspian people Sea of Qazvin Khazarabad Caspian sea coast Caspian Sea legal norms Caspian environment pollution of the Caspian Sea Caspian oil gas of the Caspian Sea Caspian Sea issues the legal system of the Caspian Sea Iran's share in Caspian legal aspects of the Caspian Sea environment of the Caspian Sea the importance and status of the Caspian Sea Caspian to the Persian Gulf connection National Institute of Oceanography features of the Caspian Sea Caspian Shipping Company Caspian Sea level Iran Russia Kazakhstan Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan fishing in the Caspian Sea Caspian Sea weather transport in the Caspian Sea Caspian Sea News marine transportation in the Caspian Sea region the Iranian islands in the Caspian Sea the scaffolding factory and shipyard Caspian ecological Institute of Caspian Sea Caspian Sea Shells in nitrate and phosphate important rivers of Caspian Sea Caspian sea basin mammal of Caspian Sea Caspian oil Company Caspian Sea water transfer babol Amol northern tourist areas forests of the north spectacular Photos of Mazandaran Mazandaran forests gilan forests images of Mazandaran forests Falls river forest Institute for Caspian Sea Caspian Sea level fluctuations Black gold caviar stellate sturgeon Hotels tourism Tourist iran tourism Russia tourism Azerbaijan tourism Caspian sea people political event event lawyer export import goods export goods import environment war military political economic economy offshore