Climate change has changed Earth’s axis, scientists say in new study
“One scenario assumes that the change in terrestrial water storage during the entire study period (1981-2020) is similar to that observed recently (2002-2020)”, the study reads. “The second scenario assumes that it has changed from the ice melt observed on the glaciers.”
According to the study, only the second scenario, with the atmosphere, the oceans and the solid Earth, “is in agreement with the polar movement during the period 1981-2020”. This new finding, which postulates that “the accelerated decline in terrestrial water storage resulting from melting glacial ice is therefore the main driver of the rapid eastward polar drift after the 1990s”, indicates that a relationship close between the movement of the Earth’s poles and climate change exists.
Google Earth Timelapse – 1985 vs 2020
According to SciTechDaily, the direction of the polar drift shifted from south to east in 1995, and from 1995 to 2020, the average speed of the polar drift, “increased about 17 times the average speed recorded from 1981 to 1995 “.
To verify their theory, the scientists in the study calculated how the water stored on the earth, that is, the glaciers, changed, according to SciTechDaily. The team found that “contributions from water loss from polar regions are the main driver of polar drift, with contributions from water loss from non-polar regions.”
Although the team claims that moving the planet’s axis will not affect standard life on Earth – it might have only changed the length of a day by just a few milliseconds, according to SciTechDaily – this study still demonstrates that the change in mass, in this glacial case, occurs on a scale large enough that the Earth’s axis can move accordingly.“I think this brings some interesting evidence to this question,” Vincent Humphrey, climate scientist at the University of Zurich, told SciTechDaily. “It tells you how strong this change in mass is – it’s so big it can change the axis of the Earth.”
To learn more about climate change and its effects on Earth, check out this story on a Google Earth update that lets you see how climate change has dramatically altered the planet. Read this story about how the Crystal Caves show the sea level to have risen 15 meters during a particularly hot period in history afterwards.
Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance writer and guide for the IGN. You can follow it on Twitter @LeBlancWes.