As climate change continues to affect the planet, rising sea levels are just one of the visible consequences. NASA has predicted a one meter rise worldwide in the next few centuries, which is disastrous for coastal communities – but that’s not all. Scientists studying the Earth’s core recently announced that changing sea levels are actually slowing down the Earth’s rotation.
A study published in Science Advances this month investigated different contributors to both rising sea levels and a slowing down of the Earth’s rotation. It turns out that, over the past 3000 years, the Earth’s core has been speeding up while the mantle-crust (where we live) has been slowing down. One mechanism at play is the melting of our planet’s glaciers: as the polar water melts it is drawn toward the equator, which slows down Earth’s rotation much like a figure skater who lowers his or her arms from up high.
Mathieu Dumberry, one of the study’s authors and professor at the University of Alberta, says that this gradual slowing of the Earth’s rotation will eventually make our days longer. In about a century, each day will be about 1.7 milliseconds longer, which may not seem like much, but it blows the mind to think that something as massive as our planet is slowing down within a few of our generations. The authors hope their studies will encourage others to continue research into these findings and to develop useful interventions for coastal regions facing devastation by the planet’s rising waters.