According to a new study, climate change likely is the cause of a recent shift in the Earth’s axis of rotation. Glaciers are melting around the world, and this is because, from the burning of fossil fuels, the temperature is rising, which redistributes enough water that since the mid-1990s causes the location of the North and South Poles to move eastward.
The location of the poles isn’t fixed and unchanging. As per the study, the way that water moves around the Earth’s surface is one reason that causes the two poles to drift. As the globe warms each year, hundreds of tons of ice melt into the Earth’s oceans.
As per study co-author, Shanshan Deng of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “The faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s.”
According to scientists, Earth is spinning faster than before. Each pole has roughly moved 13 feet since 1980. Along with the melting of glaciers, groundwater pumping is also responsible for shifting the Earth’s axis, as per the study. Earlier only natural factors such as ocean currents and the convection of hot rock deep in the planet contributed to the pole drift. Satellite data from 2002 and later had already shown that climate change is altering this weight distribution, mainly because of melting glaciers and ice sheets.
Vincent Humphrey, the climate scientist of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, said Earth spins around its axis like a top. If the weight of the top shifts, the spinning top would wobble and lean as its rotational axis changes. When the weight is shifted from one area to another, the same things happen with the Earth. He also shared that this mass change is so substantial and significant that it can change Earth’s axis. But the movement of Earth’s axis is not large enough to affect daily life. The length of the day could be changed, but only by milliseconds.