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Planet Earth Spinning Faster: What About the Leap Seconds?

Planet Earth Spinning Faster

Planet Earth Spinning Faster

The Earth is turning more quickly than average. Recently, scientists discovered that the whole spin of the Earth was 1.50 milliseconds less than 24 hours. On July 26, Earth surpassed its previous best from June, spinning completely in 1.50 milliseconds. Previously, the Earth’s axis would rotate once in precisely 24 hours.

What About the Leap Seconds?

Scientists believed that the Earth’s rotation slowed until a few years ago. To account for the slower spin, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) had even started to add leap seconds. Up to December 31, 2016, this was carried out. On the other hand, atomic clocks have recently shown that the Earth’s rotation is accelerating.

Scientists noted that 2020 has the 28 shortest days since 1960. The Earth also made its fastest-ever rotation this year on June 29, 2022, swiftly followed by a day that lasted 1.50 milliseconds less on July 26, 2022. The Earth rotated in 1.4602 milliseconds less than 24 hours on July 19, 2020, breaking the previous record for the quickest revolution.

How Fast is Earth Rotating?

Atomic clocks have recently revealed that the Earth’s rotation is rapidly accelerating. A 50-year phase of shorter days may be starting right now. Scientists noted that 2020 has the 28 shortest days since 1960. The shortest day in 2021 was longer than in 2020, reversing the trend from the previous year.

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But on June 29, 2022, our planet made its fastest-ever rotation, and on July 26, 2022, there was a day that lasted 1.50 milliseconds less. The Earth rotated in 1.4602 milliseconds less than 24 hours on July 19, 2020, breaking the previous record for the quickest revolution.

Why is Earth Spinning Faster?

Although this is still a mystery, several hypotheses contend that it could be due to the

  • melting of the glaciers means less weight on the poles
  • Motions of our planet’s inner molten core
  • Seismic activity
  • ‘Chandler wobble’ is a slight deviation in the Earth’s axis of rotation.

The Earth’s quicker rotation has repercussions since it may introduce the negative leap second to maintain the Earth’s orbital speed around the Sun following atomic clock observations.

Planet Earth Spinning Faster

IT systems will also be impacted by the negative leap second. This makes sense since a clock typically runs from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60 before restarting at 00:00:00. The time will shift from 23:59:58 to 00:00:00 if a leap second happens, which Meta says might have a “devastating effect on the applications relying on timers or schedulers.”

Why Earth’s Rotational Speed is Important?

Because atomic clocks used in GPS satellites do not account for the Earth’s shifting rotation, its faster rotation has repercussions. Earth arrives at the same point a little earlier if it spins more quickly. At the equator, a half-millisecond is equivalent to 10 inches or 26 centimeters. In other words, GPS satellites will soon be rendered worthless since they already need to account for the effects of Einstein’s general relativity theory (the space-time curve).

Additionally, there might be perplexing repercussions for Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers used by communications systems, cellphones, and computers to synchronize time. It is measured as the duration since January 1, 1970, at 00:00:00 UTC. International timekeepers may need to add a “drop second”—a negative leap second—to resolve this. Although a slowing is unavoidable, Earth may already be spinning as swiftly as it can.

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